This weekend I had a conversation about washing the bagged lettuce. The conversation went something like this: “Do you recommend washing bagged lettuce?” My response was "I generally wash it just to be safe.”
“Really? Because many of the bags are triple washed so I don’t think you really need to wash them," was the reply. I conceded it is a personal choice if you want to take the extra step. Then this week I was reading the top articles on Health.com and noticed this story titled "10 Foods That Can Make You Sick." The first food they discussed was bagged lettuce. What a coincidence huh? The recommendation was to wash the lettuce because they can be contaminated by manure or dirty washes.
The article went on to name eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts, and berries as foods we need to be careful with. The foods themselves are not really dangerous; instead the concerns revolve around cooking and storing methods. It is a good reminder for each of us. Most of contamination occurred by a particular micro-organism called Salmonella. Eggs that are cooked for an appropriate amount of time eliminates contamination problems. Tuna must be kept below 60 degrees or contaminates can be released. Oysters can be toxic if the water they are harvested from is contaminated--for example oysters from the gulf coast would be dangerous to eat definitely this season and perhaps in the seasons to come. Potato salad and cross contamination are things to watch out for. Cheeses, especially soft cheeses, can have bacteria contamination. The reported outbreak for ice cream was contaminated transportation instead of the actual ice cream. Tomatoes just need to be washed with water light soap and then rinsed or use vegetable wash to get rid of unwanted micro-organisms. Sprouts bought in the store could have been contaminated during the growing process. If you love sprouts grow them yourself and clean them well at each stage of the growing process. Local strawberries are a good way to avoid some of the contamination which seem to be coming from Chile and Guatemala.