Consumer Reports Urges Safety Standards for Leafy Greens

WASHINGTON — Consumer Reports yesterday released the results of a series of tests conducted on packaged leafy greens.

WASHINGTON — Consumer Reports yesterday released the results of a series of tests conducted on packaged leafy greens. The tests revealed high levels of “indicator organisms” — bacteria that don’t tend to make people sick, but are common indicators of poor sanitation.

No federal safety standards or limits are currently imposed on indicator bacteria in packaged salads. However, the tests found that 39% of salad samples exceeded the level of indicator bacteria that would be acceptable by federal standards in milk, beef or drinking water.

"Although these 'indicator' bacteria generally do not make healthy people sick, the tests show not enough is being done to assure the safety or cleanliness of leafy greens," Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, said in a release. "Levels of bacteria varied widely, even among different samples of the same brand. More research and effort is needed within the industry to better protect the public. In the meantime, consumers should buy packages of greens that are as far from the use-by date as possible."

Consumers Union is currently urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set new safety standards for greens.

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