Popular salad option a possible culprit in outbreak

Bagged romaine lettuce, a time-saving option for many shoppers, is suspected in the latest E. coli outbreak that has caused illness in at least 23 people, reports Lyndsey Layton of The Washington Post.


Photo by Muffet via Flickr

Layton addresses the question of whether pre-cut and bagged produce is more dangerous than whole greens and why they “represent a disproportionate number of recalls.”

An FDA official says it is easier to trace bagged produce than it is whole produce, which might account for the difference. But the article also reveals that some practices involved in the processing of pre-cut and bagged produce could be more likely to contaminate lettuce:

Most processors of fresh-cut produce remove the outer leaves and core the heads of lettuce in the field, where cutting utensils can come into contact with soil and spread contamination from the dirt to the crop, [microbiologist Michael] Doyle said. In farming areas, especially in a region near cattle farms, it is not unusual to find E. coli in the soil.

(Hat tip to Susannah-Fox.

From Covering Health

•  Little recent progress on foodborne illnesses
Schneider: FDA lacks resources to keep food safe
High cost of foodborne illness broken down by state

Tip Sheets
Lifting the shroud: Using multiple-cause-of-death data
FDA Reform: The Time Has Come (Nancy Donley presentation)
Why Is It So Difficult to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses? (Michael Doyle)


Fatal Food: A study of illness outbreaks
A selection of stories about salmonella

Web sites

Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy
Outbreak Alert! Database
Make our Food Safe Coalition

1 thought on “Popular salad option a possible culprit in outbreak

Leave a Reply