Consumer Reports recently found that nearly 40 percent of bagged salad tested had unacceptable levels of bacteria, including indicators for fecal matter!
Yes, fecal matter means exactly what you think it means - and signals that not enough is being done to keep salad free of bacteria that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and worse.
Shockingly, the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have a limit on fecal coliforms or other indicator organisms in bagged salad or fresh leafy greens - even though they have such standards for drinking water, dairy products and beef. And this despite horrible illnesses and deaths linked in recent years to contaminated bagged spinach and other fresh produce.
A bill stalled right now in the Senate would require the FDA set these limits, but consumers shouldn't wait for Congress to get its act together. Tell the FDA to set standards on bacteria in bagged salad and leafy greens now!
The agency has opened up a special docket for 90 days to take your comments on preventing safety problems in fresh produce - tell them your thoughts.
I urge the FDA to immediately declare a "zero tolerance" for disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria in salad greens. And I also urge the FDA to immediately set performance standards for bacteria that are "indicator organisms" for fecal matter and other disease-causing bacteria as a way to help keep my salad safe to eat.
Please do all you can to keep my salad and produce as safe as possible -- including zero-tolerance for disease-causing bacteria, and strong performance standards for other organisms that can indicate the presence of fecal matter. American consumers deserve to have faith in the fresh produce we eat each day.