Deborah Schoch, of the CHCF Center for Health Reporting, writing for the LA Times gave me some space in her story, “Salad industry on hunt for solution to tainted greens.”

crowded_vegas_pool_party_400.jpgOne of the biggest hurdles facing scientists now is how salad bagging works.

Thousands upon thousands of salad leaves are taken to a central plant, washed together, bagged and shipped. Even if only a few leaves are tainted, harmful pathogens can spread in the wash water — the modern salad version of the old adage that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.

“I would think of it as swimming in a swimming pool in Las Vegas with a thousand people I didn’t know,” said William Marler, a prominent Seattle-based food safety attorney whose work began with the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak that sickened hundreds and killed four. Since then, he has represented thousands of victims and families in major outbreaks linked to hamburger, peanut butter, spinach and cantaloupe, among others.

If tainted leaves make it to the processing plant, salad companies have to remove the pathogens, which is harder than it might seem. “The problem with produce is that once it’s contaminated, especially fresh-consumed produce, it’s extremely hard to get off,” said Randy Worobo, a Cornell University associate professor of food microbiology.

My only comment on her story is this line talking about bagged salad post 2006:

“… even though no major incident has occurred since.”

Honestly, I think she and other reporters should do a bit more digging – See, “Information as Currency in Public Health.”