Here is important news for salad lovers: Consumer Reports just discovered listeria in several varieties of leafy greens that were sold in stores like Whole Foods and Costco.
More than 280 products were tested by Consumer Reports, including lettuce, kale and spinach, and six of the greens were found to contain listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes are found in water and soil, and the bacteria can also spread to food via fertilizer. Animals can also carry listeria, generally as a result of eating tainted livestock feed.
Washing your produce thoroughly (and avoiding deli meat, non-pasteurized milk and dairy products) can help to reduce your risk of consuming foods that may contain listeria, but it is not a guarantee. Indeed, even though many salad greens now come pre-washed, it is important to note that this will not rid them of listeria. Two of the six tainted greens that Consumer Reports found were packaged and pre-washed.
According to Consumer Reports, the other four tainted samples were loose heads or bunches of green kale, green lead lettuce, red lead lettuce and spinach. The publication isn’t recommending everyone stop eating leafy greens at once because of this test but is urging those most vulnerable to be careful.
“It’s important that those most likely to be affected by listeria — older adults, infants and young children, anyone with a compromised immune system, and pregnant women — carefully consider whether to eat raw leafy greens, including lettuce,” said Dr. James. E. Rogers in the Consumer Reports story. “The safest thing is to stick with greens you can cook.”
The testing on the produce in question was performed in June. All samples were bought at grocery stores including Costco, Acme, Hannaford and Whole Foods in states including Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Notably, Nature’s Place Organic Spinach Spring Mix, sold at a Hannaford Supermarket, was genetically linked to two reported cases of listeriosis, which is the illness caused by exposure to listeria.
To learn more about listeria in food and how to protect yourself, click to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or speak to your doctor.
“Products typically have to pass safety tests or inspections before they can be sold in the United States. So, if something harmful does make it through all of those checkpoints, it is likely that the manufacturer does not know about the issue,” a spokesperson from ConsumerSafety.org told Simplemost in an email. “There are a number of ways consumers can be vigilant for their safety, and one of those is by manually reporting potentially dangerous products. If others have also reported this issue, or if a serious health or safety threat is found, this can speed up the process in which a recall is issued.”
If you believe you may have ingested listeria-contaminated food, check out these important guidelines from Consumer Safety which will help you report the case to the appropriate authorities.