More pre-washed salad silliness

I hate when I come up with a smart answer long after the opportunity has passed.

A barfblog reader nudged me yesterday regarding the Consumer Reports oh-my-god-there’s-bacteria-in-salad story to say,

“We had a good laugh at the CR story. Note how they merely pointed out that there were bacteria on the ‘RTE’ products they tested. They didn’t bother to find out that—uh oh—they don’t really wash off if you put them under the tap. I tell people not to waste their time; I never wash unless there is gross dirt or debris, and that is only to avoid chipping a tooth.”

Dooh. I knew that. Washing really doesn’t do much when it involves fresh produce. And if Consumer Reports really wanted to validate their study – and their advice to rewash bagged salad, which is still being repeated ad nauseum – they would have washed bagged salad and then run the same tests for bacterial presence.

Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my brain there was some recollection of this because, as I told Darla Carter of the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, the study was “almost useless to consumers.”

“I can find indicator organisms almost anywhere, so what? … Indicator organisms generally aren’t going to make you barf.”

Powell said washing bagged salad has no proven value and poses the risk of cross-contamination.

“They’re giving advice that’s contrary to what is generally accepted,” he said.
When it comes to ensuring the safety of problematic produce, such as leafy greens, tomatoes and cantaloupe, “the focus has to be on the farm and then all the way through the system,” Powell said. “Prevention is much better.”

And washing doesn’t do much. If only I’d said that at the time.