Consumer Reports study on packaged greens.

POSTED: Friday, February 5, 2010 - 9:23am

UPDATED: Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 11:35am

Consumer Reports tested more than 200 packages of 16 brands of salad greens in the produce section of grocery stores.

All of the samples were within their use by dates when they were tested. The good news was that none contained the dangerous bacteria E-coli, Listeria or Salmonella. The bad news is that many of the packages did contain high levels of other bacteria that indicate poor sanitation and fecal contamination. According to industry experts, consulted by Consumer Reports, 39% of the samples had high levels of total Coliforms, 23% had high levels of Enterococcus.

The report says many of the dirtiest salads had a couple of things in common, they contained spinach and were close to their use by dates, from one to five days. It made no difference whether the salad was in a bag or a plastic clamshell container. Consumer Reports is not telling shoppers to avoid packaged salads, but to stay safe it recommends buying salads as far from their use by date as possible and no matter what the bag says, wash it yourself.

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