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Six Tips for Safer Salads
Published: 6/9/2011

Salads based on greens, particularly dark leafy varieties such as spinach and kale, can be a good way to get your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vegetables. However, as a recent contamination outbreak in Europe has shown, the contents of salad can sometimes be a source of E. coli and salmonella. Help minimize your risk of exposure to pathogens with these steps:

  1. Always rinse packaged greens, even if the package states “prewashed.” Greens that look fresh, especially greens in plastic, can still harbor bacteria. Loose and unpacked greens should be washed three times under cold, running water to remove sand, dirt and any bacteria that may be present.
  2. Don't purchase greens that are past their “best-if-used-by” date.
  3. All vegetables and fruits should be scrubbed under cold, running water before being used.
  4. Do not put raw bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts in your salad - they aren't really all that healthy and the risk of toxins, E. coli or salmonella from these sources is high.
  5. If using tofu in salad, purchase it in packaged form only - avoid buying it in bulk out of open barrels, which may harbor unwanted organisms.
  6. At a salad bar, make sure that the vegetables are well chilled (kept over ice) and that the food is properly shielded with a sneeze guard or hood. Avoid any items that look old or dried out.

Check out the Food Safety page on for more information, and keep up to date on outbreaks of food-borne illness.

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