Although leafy green vegetables get a number of stars in nutritional ratings, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention regards them as one of the riskiest foods on the market. They are often contaminated by pathogens such as Salmonella and Noroviruses and have been the source of about 20% of the food-borne infections in the last 11 years. A number of government measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of these cut greens, but it is ultimately up to the consumer to ensure that the food they eat is of the topmost health standards.
There are many steps that the consumer can take to ensure he is buying healthy cut greens. While shopping for leafy vegetables, one is advised to have some sort of ice pack in which to carry the greens so that they remain cool until they reach home, and to refrigerate them as soon as possible. The cooler the temperature, the harder for the pathogens to reproduce and contaminate the vegetable. It is recommended that the greens are to be stored at temperatures of 41 degrees or lower.
One should also be sure to wash the greens thoroughly under running water before using them, and wash hands thoroughly before handling the vegetables. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the surfaces are very clean. The surfaces also include chopping boards that should be thoroughly washed before use. In the case of pre-washed greens, one can use them without washing and in the case that one chooses to wash them, they should be sure to do it carefully. Precaution should also be taken while handling the vegetables and raw meat or poultry simultaneously. This is because they can easily be cross contaminated. Handling the green produce safely should ensure that one, especially people whose immune systems are weak, is safer from bacteria-related infections.