According to researchers from the University of Leicester in England bagged salads come with the risk of exposure to salmonella bacteria along with the potential to cause food poisoning and other salmonella-related infections.
The study by researchers at the University of Leicester has revealed, “leached juices from leafy vegetables enhance growth and virulence of food poisoning bug.” Their investigations have concluded that even a small amount of damage to the salad leaves can be a huge catalyst in the “presence of the food poisoning bug Salmonella in ready-prepared salad leaves.”
The continuing research on the salmonella bug is headed by Dr Primrose Freestone of the University’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation and PhD student Giannis Koukkidis.
“Our project does not indicate any increased risk for eating leafy salads, but it does provide a better understanding of the factors contributing to food poisoning risks,” Dr Freestone told Reuters Health by email. “It also highlights the need for continued good practice in salad leaf production and preparation.”
The research has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) the leading funding agency for promoting academic research and training in the in the field of biosciences.
In the Annual Report and Accounts 2015 – 2016 of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) the Chief Executive, Professor Melanie Welham in her summary writes:
“BBSRC has a crucial role to play in building and leveraging the UK’s world-leading bioscience research base to boost knowledge generation, sustainable development, security, productivity and economic growth – in short, to build the bioeconomy and realize its benefits for wider society. Last year we invested £473M in world-leading bioscience, people and research infrastructure.”
Now, coming back to the salmonella threat in prepacked salads, in the U.S researchers and scientists are aware of the health risks and have been paying the required attention to salad contamination; especially, in the aftermath of 100 reported salmonella infections from bean sprouts in 2014.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. the dreaded foodborne salmonella causes around 1.4 million cases of illnesses and 400 deaths annually in the United States only.
Some common symptoms of salmonella food poisoning are Diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramping – can appear anytime between 12 and 72 hours after eating the salmonella contaminated food.
In 2016, salmonella outbreaks in the U.S. have so far been linked to alfalfa sprouts, pistachios, and egg shells.
In addition to food poisoning medically known as Salmonellosis, strains of the bacteria have the potential to cause other illnesses such as typhoid and paratyphoid.
As frightening as it sounds, we must know that it’s not just damaged salads leaves that can cause Salmonellosis and other salmonella-related diseases.
Infections can also be contracted from other sources as well, such as poultry, pork, beef, and seafood if not cooked properly – undercooked food can retain the bacteria to cause infection. However, even properly cooked food can get infected after preparation.
Infected eggs (bad eggs) and related products, and milk with improper handling or bad or no refrigeration are likely to cause salmonella infections along with tainted or damaged fruits and vegetables.
The good thing is all the diseases mentioned are treatable with proper medical care and timely treatment. However, if left untreated or not treated timely they can be potentially fatal.