How Safe is Your Salad?

Despite years of regulation, don’t trust your greens just yet.

In the past 35 years, the United States has seen a substantial increase in fresh, leafy green vegetables being contaminated with disease-causing bacteria and the increase isn’t entirely because more people are eating more salads.

A report presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases found that since 1973, there have been 10,421 food outbreaks, some 500 of which came from leafy-green vegetables. Most were contaminated with norovirus, followed by salmonella and E. coli. More than 60 percent of the outbreaks involved contamination by germs spread by humans.

From 1986 to 1995, Americans ate about 17 percent more leafy greens than they did the decade before. Yet the proportion of food-borne illnesses caused by leafy greens went up almost 60 percent. From 1996 through 2005, consumption increased another 9 percent and the proportion of illnesses linked to greens increased 39 percent.

Remember these safety tips when handling leafy greens or other produce:

First, wash your hands with warm water and soap.

Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing.

Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water or use a spray nozzle. Do this for produce bought at the grocery store, grown at home, or at a local farmer’s market.

Rub produce with your hands or a scrub brush to remove any lingering bacteria. Even if you plan to peel the fruit, it’s important to still clean it.

Gently dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel.

For more information or to subscribe at the introductory price of $10 a year, go to Positively Green magazine launched in 2008 as a quarterly women’s magazine that covers every aspect of green from eco-friendly vacations to green fashion to green health. With articles that don’t just explain the problems, they outline solutions for busy people who want to make the change but don’t have the time to research solutions.

By Martha Miller, Positively Green magazine

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Adrian Moctezuma
.3 years ago

green..!!!! :O

Enrique Gonzalez Riojas

Thanks for sharing!

Penny C.
Penny C.3 years ago


Tamara Hayes

Great info. I always wash all of my produce and I have been eating tons of green salads so now I know to be even more diligent with my cleaning methods.

Rita White
Rita White3 years ago

good info, thanks

Ajla C.
Past Member 3 years ago


Jelka V.
Jelka V.3 years ago

I've used a pinch of baking soda for washing any fruit or vegetable - and often myself :) - under running water.
In my opinion, nothing works better than baking soda (bicarbonate of sodium).

And like Laurita said, do not discard any wet paper towels you may have (fabric towels are still best).
I use it to swipe around the kitchen sink, or some tile on the floor that needs extra impromptu cleaning... whatever I see that needs a bit of extra cleaning.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 3 years ago

Excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

LM Sunshine

thank you.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.