Every year it seems that we see food safety warnings and product recalls for bagged lettuces and other packaged salad crops in the news headlines. Greens can be a source of pesticide, Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria contamination.
WHY THIS ISSUE ARISES SO OFTEN WITH PRE-CUT GREENS / SALAD MIXES
According to the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration), “Most leafy greens are grown outdoors, where they are exposed to soil, animals, and water, all of which can be a source of pathogen contamination.”
Many of the brands with which we are familiar use field grown produce that is processed in shared facilities, where large quantities of greens are consolidated and where contamination can be spread and despite best efforts, the ability to trace contamination sources is diminished.
In fact, many of the brands we recognize on local grocery shelves are from companies with facilities in / around Salinas, California. Names that you may recognize associated with outbreaks /recalls in recent years include Fresh Express, Earthbound Farm and others.
HOW WE MITIGATE AGAINST FOOD-SAFETY CONCERNS
Our food safety protocols are informed by the US FDA’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and include:
- Use clean, good quality water that has been treated to remove pathogens
- Wash / sanitize hands prior to handling of plants and equipment
- Keep the growing area as clean as possible. Remove any plants that are sick or rotting, and immediately take out pruning remnants, old leaves and other organic matter
- At harvest time, wash hands, knives and other tools before use.
- Pets are never allowed into the greenhouse
- Never use composted materials, manure etc.