Two bagged salad recalls might make you want to skip your servings of vegetables this week. Or maybe forever.
Note: This is a Lifehacker US story. Head to Lifehacker Australia for AU-relevant stories.
The newest Centres for Disease Control recall is for Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits. The kits are being blamed for eight cases of E. coli food poisoning from three different states. No deaths have been reported, but three of the people who got sick had to be hospitalized.
The CDC says to look for “UPC 0 71279 30906 4, beginning with lot code Z, and a best-before date up to and including 07DEC19” on the upper right corner of the bag to see if the bag in your fridge is one of the salads being recalled.
That warning comes shortly after the CDC advised people not to eat any romaine lettuce grown in or near Salinas, California. “This includes all use-by dates and brands of romaine lettuce from this region,” the CDC noted. If there’s no location listed on the lettuce, the agency said to dump it to be on the safe side.
More than 100 people in 23 states have been diagnosed with the same strain of E. coli as those impacted by the Fresh Express kits, although it’s not certain whether there is a link between the two.
We’ve been down on bagged lettuce for a while here at Lifehacker, but can we just agree that all lettuce is doomed?
The CDC site for E. coli outbreaks lists two for romaine lettuce in 2018, an outbreak linked to leafy greens in 2017, and even archives outbreaks back to 2006. Humble lettuce, the bed on which we place more appetizing fresh morsels, just can’t be trusted.
Bagged salads are particularly to blame because their contents, which often come from a variety of farms, get distributed widely, not just in one geographic region. That increases the odds that lettuce that gets contaminated somewhere along the way will end up on our plates. The lettuce does get washed several times in a chlorinated bath, all that bathing still doesn’t kill E. coli.
If you’re still craving lettuce for some reason, keep in mind that buying it from a small local farm may not help you avoid food-borne illness. If you buy a head of lettuce, the FDA recommends removing and discarding the outer leaves, then rinsing the rest before use. Spraying with a vinegar wash will help kill bacteria, but in this era of lettuce catastrophes, there are no guarantees. Sorry!