Listeria in Bagged Salads Kills Two, Sickens at Least 17

“Salads in a bag” are one of the easiest ways to get your greens. We’re not huge fans of the amount of sugar in the dressing. But, simply swapping out the dressing for a homemade vinaigrette can help you enjoy a salad with tons of ingredients without a lot of chopping and buying a lot of different things. And that is very appealing.

The problem with pre-packaged salads is that they have been repeatedly tied to large outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. Prewashed, ready-to-eat vegetables aren’t always as safe as they seem. The CDC is now investigating Dole for a Listeria outbreak that has killed two people, made 17 people ill and caused 13 hospitalizations in 13 states.

The recalls started in late December got bagged salads with a use-by date between November 30, 2021, and January 9, 2022. The brands impacted were Ahold, Dole, HEB, Kroger, Lidl, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, Naturally Better, Nature’s Promise, President’s Choice and Simply Nature. Additionally, the CDC is investigating a separate Listeria outbreak tied to Fresh Express bagged salads.

Listeria can survive in the fridge. It spreads easily from surfaces to food. So clean out your fridge and wash your kitchen surfaces that any infected food may have come in contact with. Listeria is a very dangerous bacterium. You can develop listeriosis after eating contaminated food. That causes fever, muscle ache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. While a healthy adult may not be badly impacted by the illness, it can be fatal to children, older people or folks with comprised immune systems. It’s estimated to infect about 1,600 people a year and 260.

Consumer Reports in the past examined prewashed salad greens to see how clean they were. They didn’t find E. coli, Listeria or Salmonella in that test. However, they found high levels of bacteria associated with fecal matter, even in brands that claimed to be triple-washed. They concluded by recommending you buy the salads that are farthest from their use-by-date and rewash them yourself. That is probably your best option if you want to use the salad in a bag.

If you have health issues that make listeriosis more dangerous for you, it might be better to leave prepared salads off your grocery list in the future. Convenience doesn’t trump safety. Washing all of your components separately and cutting them yourself is the best way to ensure you are eating clean, safe food.

Banner image: TUBARONES PHOTOGRAPHY via Pexels

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