Consumer Reports found samples of packaged salad greens to contain "bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination, in some cases at rather high levels" in a study published in its March 2010 issue, the Huffington Post reported.
The magazine had an outside lab test 208 containers of 16 brands of salad greens, packaged in both clamshells and plastic bags, and purchased in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The samples were tested for several types of bacteria including coliforms and Enterococcus, which can indicate inadequate sanitation and disease.
Consumer Reports found 39 percent of the samples exceeded the level of total coliform bacteria recommended by food consultants. Twenty-three percent of the samples exceeded recommended levels for Enterococcus.
None were found to contain the sometimes deadly bacteria E.coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes or salmonella, the Huffington Post reported.
The Consumers Union issued a report Tuesday recommending the U.S. Food and Drug Administration set standards for safe levels of bacteria in packaged salads, noting, "Although there are U.S. government standards for indicator organisms in milk, meat, drinking water, and even swimming water, there are no federal standards for these bacteria in salad greens."
Consumers Union found that bagged salads that were closer to their "use-by" date tended to have somewhat higher levels of these bacteria. The tests found no significant differences between organic and non-organic greens.
Bacteria levels varied widely in packages of the same brand of greens.
[via Huffington Post]