PRE-PREPARED salads and other "ready-to-eat" foods pose a salmonella threat, according to one of Britain's leading microbiologists. Professor John Threlfall, of the government's Health Protection Agency (HPA), has urged consumers to disregard assurances on packaging and wash the contents again before eating.
Prof Threlfall warned that salmonella infections linked to ready-to-eat salads and herbs were rising, while other experts warned that such products could also be a source of E coli 0157 which can be fatal. His warning sent shockwaves through the food industry, which has created a £400-million-a-year business selling bagged salads to Britons who lack the time to wash and prepare their own.
Representatives of the ready-to-eat salads industry expressed disbelief at Prof Threlfall's comments and maintained that there was no need to re-wash their products.
The HPA is a key government quango, issuing advice and monitoring UK public health issues and infectious diseases. It is a sister organisation of Health Protection Scotland. Prof Threlfall, the director of the HPA's Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens - which monitors intestinal disease - said he wanted to alert the public about the potential risks when eating pre-washed salads.
"People could be putting themselves at risk by not washing these vegetables," he said.
"There have been a lot of outbreaks linked to ready-to-eat vegetables and herbs, often those shipped in from other countries."
In comments in the agency's magazine, Health Protection Matters, Prof Threlfall said: "Ready-to-eat products and fresh herbs are a common cause of salmonellosis, and these infections appear to be on the increase."
Source - Scotsman