Bagged lettuce certainly makes eating salads and other fresh vegetables more convenient. But many there is still that nagging question: “Should it be washed before eating?”
I’ve visited a couple of the bagged lettuce companies in California and personally feel comfortable eating these products directly from the bag. I don’t think I could wash the produce as good myself.
According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education (fightbac.org) rewashing is not necessary. They say “while it is important to wash most fruits and vegetables, if packaged greens are labeled” ready-to-eat, washed or triple washed” then the product does not need to be washed at home. Pre-washed greens have been through a cleaning process immediately before going into the bag. Re-washing and handling the greens creates opportunities for contamination.”
One of the key point in this recommendation is the concern that the produce could be contaminated after you get it home. Sometimes the re-washing and handling the lettuce at home can cause more problems than if you used it directly out of the bag.
Some other tips:
· Pay attention to sell-by dates
· Buy bags that have been kept cold in the grocery store
· Refrigerate as soon as possible once you get the produce home
· Wash your hands, utensils and counter tops before handling the greens or other pre-washed produce
· Dumping directly from the bag into salad bowls without handling will help avoid cross-contamination.
The great thing about bagged lettuce is that kids can help pour it into a bowl and they can top with their favorite veggies.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
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