Bagged salads might pose serious health risks according to study

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You might want to think twice before buying that bagged salad in the supermarket. A study has found that it might pose a serious health risk.

Bagged salads are a very convenient way for people to try and eat healthier without the hassle of chopping up veggies to make the salad by hand. However, based on a recent study, bagged salads might pose a serious health risk.

It creates an ideal breeding ground for salmonella

Researchers conducted a study on the behavior of salmonella in salad juices and found that the plastic bags used to pack the salad creates an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria.

They shared, "We found that juices released from the cut-ends of the salad leaves enabled the Salmonella to grow in water, even when it was refrigerated - this was a surprise as Salmonella has a temperature preference of 37 C.  Collectively, this study shows that exposure to salad leaf juice may contribute to the persistence of Salmonella on salad leaves, and strongly emphasizes the importance of ensuring the microbiological safety of fresh produce."

Primrose Freestone, one of the authors, added: "Salad juice exposure also helped the Salmonella cells to attach to the salad leaves so strongly that washing could not remove them. Collectively, this study shows that exposure to even traces of salad leaf juice may contribute to the persistence of Salmonella on salad leaves as well as priming it for establishing an infection in the consumer."

100 pathogens became 100,000

Over the course of 5 days, the researchers tracked the movement as well as the development of the salmonella pathogen inside the salad bag. They were suprised to find that from an initial number of 100 salmonella pathogens, the number soared to 100,000 over the course of the study.

The researchers were quick to add that their result doesn't mean that there is always risk to eating bagged salads, but it does show what could happen should there be a lapse when it comes to food preparation and packaging in bagged salads.

They also emphasized the importance of making sure to follow the storage instructions on the pack and to follow the use-by or expiration dates.

How can we prevent salmonella?

Nowadays, the food that we buy from supermarkets and groceries is handled with much stricter food safety standards. However, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't follow basic food safety steps when it comes to handling, storing, and preparing our food.

Here are some helpful guidelines that you should always keep in mind:

  1. Cook meats thoroughly. The best way to kill salmonella pathogens would be to cook meat thoroughly. As a general guideline, cook meats until they are no longer reddish or pink.
  2. Wash your hands frequently when handling raw food, especially meat. When handling meat, make sure to always wash your hands after, as the juices can contaminate other surfaces that you touch. Make sure to wash vegetables thoroughly before cooking them as bacteria from the skin can get inside the vegetable once you slice them.
  3. Be extra careful when it comes to food for babies or sick people. Be careful when preparing food for babies or sick people as their immune systems might not be able to handle certain types of bacteria that healthy people and adults can manage.
  4. Make sure to use separate utensils when preparing raw and cooked food, meats, and vegetables. Use a separate knife and chopping board when preparing vegetables and meats as using the same utensils on both can cause cross-contamination.
  5. Defrost meats inside the refrigerator, not outside at room temperature. Defrosting your meats inside the refrigerator ensures that the growth of bacteria in the meat is halted. Defrosting at room temperature can cause bacteria to grow on the meat.

 

Sources: iflscience.com, cdc.gov, itechpost.com

READ: Did you know that washing poultry might do more harm than good?