If you buy a pre-washed ready to eat bag of salad leaves, do you tip straight out onto a plate – or do you thoroughly wash it first? The whole idea of bagged salad mixes is convenience, so it’s no surprise most people don’t wash.
But how do they wash the salad before they bag it? Well it turns out diluted chlorine is commonly used. The chlorine is used to kill any harmful bacteria to ensure the lettuce is safe for our consumption. Seemingly even organic produce is allowed to use a weak chlorine solution for this purpose. Whilst there is supposed to be no trace of the chlorine 24 hours after treatment, do you trust your salad to be chemical free?
With outbreaks of e-coli and salmonella, it’s not surprising the salad growers are keen to sanitise their product. With salad available all year round the pressure is on to produce a cheap product – often meaning growers don’t provide sanitary conditions for their workers – hence the contamination risk. Unfortunately sanitising salad doesn’t remove the risk of contamination, it just makes it less likely.
So what’s the answer? If pre-washed salad could still be contaminated and could contain traces of chlorine is it worth paying the price premium?
Wash your own
A far better option is to spend a fraction of the cost buying fresh, unpackaged greens. Get rid of any wilted, torn or bruised leaves and let them sit in a sink full of ice cold water for 20 minutes. Use a salad spinner to get rid of the water and roll in paper towels to get the rest of the water out. If you store in plastic bags with paper towels to absorb any remaining water, they should remain fresh for over a week in the fridge.
How to you wash yours?