It’s (not) in the bag

Bagged lettuce. An overpriced, bad idea to begin with that has generated several small fortunes. All because consumers are too busy to prepare their own salad. 

Unfortunately, there have been six recalls of bagged lettuce since last Spring. Most of the recalls have been due to contamination with Listeria, a bacteria that not only survives but thrives at cold temperatures (like you find in most grocery distributors). 

So, buying produce in bags is not a guarantee of safety.

Save yourself the excess cost and danger. And whatever you buy in terms of raw produce, follow these four simple guidelines to prepare it:

1.)    Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds both before and after preparing fresh produce.

2.)    Clean any surfaces you will be using, such as countertops and cutting boards.

3.)    Don’t place produce directly in the kitchen sink. Instead, place the produce in a bowl or colander and hold it under running water.

4.)    Wash the produce. But don’t spend money on special fruit and vegetable washes. The best produce wash is plain old running water (which removes over 90 percent of bacteria). If you want to take extra steps, add some natural lemon (citric acid) or vinegar (acetic acid) to your wash. This will help kill or reduce bacteria counts.

And, finally, don’t forget that we’re not defenseless against bacteria. For example, some bacteria (such as Listeria) exist commonly in our own digestive systems. It’s only when the dose is too large that bacteria can cause health problems. So, following the basic steps above will virtually eliminate your risk of being infected with any contaminant.