'Prewashed' Salads May Need Another Rinse
Consumer Reports Analysis Finds Bacteria in Packaged Green Salads
WebMD News Archive
Produce Industry Responds
Packaged salad products exploded onto the market in the early 1990s and in
less than two decades sales have climbed to almost $3 billion a year.
The produce industry responded to the article in Consumer Reports by
stressing that the bacteria found by the investigators posed no risk to the
"Consumer Union found only harmless, naturally occurring bacteria, for which
no detection standards have been established by the federal government," reads
a joint written statement from the Produce Marketing Association and the United
Fresh Produce Association.
The trade groups also called on Congress to pass comprehensive food safety
reform and adequately fund the FDA to ensure the agency can "fulfill its
mission to safeguard consumers."
"The produce industry is committed to providing safe and healthy foods,
every bite, every time," the statement reads. "Our growers are often the first
to eat the foods we sell, and they understand the importance of maintaining
consumer confidence. The industry has already invested tens of millions of
dollars in food safety programs, and related research."
A spokesman for Chiquita Brands, which markets the Fresh Express line of
packaged salads, also emphasizes that the bacteria found in the investigation
are considered harmless to humans.
“Experts, such as the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological
Criteria for Foods, do not consider the presence of coliforms as an accurate
indicator of a health concern in fresh produce,” Chiquita Director of Investor
Relations and Corporate Communications Ed Loyd tells WebMD in a written
statement. “Specifically, the publication fully acknowledged that no pathogens
were present in any of the salad samples.”
Loyd writes that Chiquita’s food safety practices exceed industry standards
and government guidelines.
The Senate is considering a food safety reform bill that would require the
FDA to develop safety standards for the growing and processing of fresh
produce. The reform would also require the agency to declare acceptable levels
of specific bacteria in packaged products.