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.

lettuce

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.

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