UNITED STATES – A test by Consumer Reports of almost 300 samples of leafy greens sold in numerous grocery stores found Listeria in several samples. Safety experts are now encouraging at-risk groups to avoid eating raw greens and stick to greens that they can cook to eliminate the risks of falling ill.
The test conducted by Consumer Reports included 284 samples of greens like kale, lettuce, and spinach. They were taken from major grocery outlets like Costco, Whole Foods, Acme, and Hannaford, and the tests found six samples with Listeria contamination. Four of the samples were sold in heads or bunches of greens and included spinach, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and green kale.
The other two samples containing Listeria were prewashed and packaged spinach and a spinach mix including other leafy greens. Doctors with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that it is not entirely surprising to find Listeria in leafy greens, but it is concerning that the bacteria has been found on food items that people are generally not going to cook.
Consumer Reports indicated that its test did not include enough samples to reach any conclusions about certain brands of greens or certain stores that carry leafy greens. However, it said that the test highlights the improvements that still need to be made in the greens industry to ensure consumer safety.
In response to the test, doctors with Consumer Reports are encouraging people who could be considered at-risk for illness to avoid eating raw greens. At-risk groups might include children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems. Contact with Listeria could result in more serious consequences in these groups, doctors say, so it is probably safest to eat greens that can be cooked.
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