Health experts say risks higher with packaged salad mix

Aug 2, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Food safety experts say they're not surprised by a recent outbreak of a stomach bug that two states have linked to bagged salad.

That's because the process of harvesting, washing, and packaging such products provides numerous opportunities for contamination.

Last year the Food and Drug Administration issued more than 20 recalls for packaged salads, romaine lettuce or spinach. Most recalls came after tests found listeria or E. coli bacteria present. Both can cause serious illness.

The current stomach bug that sickened hundreds in 15 states is caused by a parasite spread when people ingest food or water contaminated with feces. Iowa and Nebraska officials have tied it to prewashed bagged salad.

Iowa Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says the product that sickened people is gone and packaged salads are safe to eat.

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