High bacteria levels found in packaged leafy greens

by Staff
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YONKERS, N.Y. — Microbiological tests conducted on packaged leafy greens by Consumer Reports magazine found bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination at what the publication described as “high levels.” The story appears in the March 2010 issue of the publication.

The tests, which were conducted with financial support from the Pew Health Group, assessed for several types of bacteria, including total coliforms and Enterococcus —“indicator organisms” found in the human digestive tract and in the ambient environment that may signal inadequate sanitation and the potential for the presence of disease-causing organisms. The tests found that 39% of samples exceeded the level for total coliform, and 23% for Enterococcus. The tests did not find E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella.

“Although these ‘indicator’ bacteria generally do not make healthy people sick, the tests show not enough is being done to assure the safety or cleanliness of leafy greens,” said Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports. “Levels of bacteria varied widely, even among different samples of the same brand. More research and effort is needed within the industry to better protect the public. In the meantime, consumers should buy packages of greens that are as far from the use-by date as possible.”

The full story is available at www.consumerreports.org.
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