The produce industry is justified in being upset about the latest accusation of lax food safety practices.
It’s important that retailers and foodservice providers know the industry’s response to the most recent attack, this time from a United Kingdom study that raises concerns about salmonella in bagged salads.
University of Leicester researchers found that if salmonella gets into a bagged salad, the juice from damaged leaves will encourage its growth. The study also said exposure to leaf juice can make salmonella more likely to cause infection.
Consumer media was quick to report on these findings that put salad makers in a bad light, but it only briefly mentioned the researchers’ other finding that the study doesn’t present an increased risk by eating bagged salads.
Some stories omit that finding entirely.
Salad producers called the study “ridiculous” with “artificial conditions,” and food safety experts pointed out the industry already knows salmonella can grow in environments such as inside salad bags, which is why processors work so hard on preventing it getting in there in the first place.
In most of the news stories, the only quotes are from the study’s authors and scientific peers intent on scaring consumers.
Very few stories quote salad producers or even produce industry spokespeople.
Retailers and other buyers should ask their bagged salad providers for consumer talking points in case consumers ask about this study.
The produce industry has a strong food safety message and should be eager to share it.
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