Recalled Salad Maker to Announced New Food Poisoning Precautions

A salad producer implicated in at least two major recalls this year is offering a possible solution on reducing the spread of dangerous, even deadly, bacterium that cause <"">food poisoning.

The New York Times wrote that, in the wake of a number of outbreaks linked to Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, the produce industry is seeking improved ways in which to wash the vegetables it sells to restaurants and markets. Fresh Express, considered a leader in the industry, said that washing the greens in a “mild acid solution” kills off the pathogens, wrote the NY Times.

The company is expected to announce that it is doing away with the traditional practice of chlorine rinses and has already implemented the acid rinses, said the NY Times. Fresh Express said that the acid rinse is significantly more effective when killing bacteria, and has named its emerging rinse FreshRinse, a solution that contains organic acids used in the food industry, such as milk’s lactic acid, explained the NY Times.

“We do believe it provides a much higher level of effectiveness versus the chlorine sanitizers in use today,” said Mike Burness, vice president of global quality and food safety at Chiquita Brands International, quoted the NY Times. Chiquita owns Fresh Express. “This technology was developed to raise the bar,” Burness added.

In recent months, Fresh Express voluntarily recalled 2,825 cases of Veggie Lovers Salad over concerns the product could be contaminated with the dangerous Listeria monocytogenes pathogen. Just prior, Fresh Express recalled bagged salads over possible contamination from E. coli O157:H7 linked to certain Romaine lettuce salad products. And, before that, the firm recalled Romaine-based ready-to-eat bagged salads because of possible Salmonella contamination.

Burness said firm researchers mixed lactic and peracetic acid and found that, combined, they killed germs better than either alone or chlorine, said the NY Times. The acid washes are in place and expected to be used at four of the other company’s locations by early 2011, noted the NY Times.

Although some experts feel that the new mixture is potentially promising, its claims cannot be evaluated until and unless Fresh Express publishes its research, explained the NY Times. And, while the firm advised the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about its new wash, it is not mandated to receive approval for its switch since the ingredients in its mixture have been previously approved for food industry use, the NY Times pointed out.

The recent Fresh Express recalls involved three very dangerous food borne pathogens that can cause gastrointestinal distress, some can manifest with fever, muscle aches, and other adverse reactions.

Listeriosis, if it spreads to the nervous system can cause headache, stiff neck, or confusion. The illness primarily impacts pregnant women and adults with weakened immune systems. E. coli O157:H7 can lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which can lead to serious kidney damage and death. Salmonella, which can also cause serious infections, can require hospitalization. Severe cases can result in arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis and even death.

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