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Old 12-13-2006, 11:37 AM   #1
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E. Coli

Since fall, there have been numerous E. Coli breakouts here in the Twin Cities/Metro Area of Minnesota resulting from store bought lettuce, and, most recently Taco Bell. I had planned on including a salad of mixed greens on the menu for a holiday party but now am thinking twice about that. Sometimes I buy the prewashed lettuce in the sealed bag but sometimes I mix it up and use endive, raddichio, etc. Should I just scrap it and make a fresh fruit salad? Greens go SO much better w/lasagna - what do you think???

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Old 12-13-2006, 11:42 AM   #2
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Sassy, you're probably perfectly fine with any produce you buy. But nobody can give you a 100 percent guarantee. If you're going to worry about it and if you think your guests may have any qualms whatsoever, I'd skip it and do your fruit salad -- or if you want something green, maybe marinated veggies or something.
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:58 AM   #3
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If I were you, I'd buy a head of plain old iceberg lettuce, and wash it well. I always peel off several of the outer layers and dispose of those.

I have quit buying any of the bagged stuff lately.
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Old 12-13-2006, 12:16 PM   #4
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The simple solution is: don't include lettuce. You don't need to have lettuce in there if you really want a green salad. Buy mesuclin greens or buy the greens seperate such as frisee, arugula, etc. and mix it together at home.
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Old 12-13-2006, 12:39 PM   #5
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Ironchef - I don't know what "mesclun" greens contain where you live, but around here they definitely contain lettuce. "Mesclun" is just a mix of baby greens of all types - including lettuce. And frisee, arugula, etc., are "fresh greens" as well. Buying them separate & mixing them at home is no guarantee against e-coli contamination. Baby spinach is sold separately to be mixed at home - & that was the most serious outbreak so far, if you recall.

In addition, the e-coli outbreaks aren't necessarily coming from exterior sources that can be "washed off". In the past they've been traced to water sources that are being "absorbed" by the produce, thus cannot just be washed off. They're "inside" the produce, & can only possibly be killed by cooking.

To be honest Sassy, if I were you I would make a nice big mixed green salad - washed & dried well for what it's worth - & let your guests make their own decisions. I'm still eating green salads on an almost daily basis - both pre-bagged & home mixed - & don't plan on changing (until our next growing season when I, as usual, will be growing my own salad greens).
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Old 12-13-2006, 01:00 PM   #6
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Sassy, why don't you go buy some cabbage and make a nice coleslaw? There are lots of exoticy recipes floating around. Or, make a marinated veggie salad. Use broccoli, cauliflower, etc and marinate with a nice Italian dressing or maybe a balsamic vinaigrette.
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Old 12-13-2006, 01:06 PM   #7
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Make the green salad....Enjoy!!
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Old 12-13-2006, 01:38 PM   #8
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There as been some E Coli problems up here too. In spinach. We have to take the spinach out of the house salad mix at my work.
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Old 12-13-2006, 01:42 PM   #9
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I guess I would do as breezy suggested and make a salad and leave it up to your guests if they want to eat it. As far as I recall, it was/is only bagged greens (mostly from California I think) that were contaminated. I havent heard anything about head lettuce being contaminated. It certainly is scary that we have to decide whether or not to eat bagged greens though. Think I might start growing my own lettuce and other greens in the spring!
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Old 12-13-2006, 02:11 PM   #10
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I am with the 'make the green salad and enjoy' group.

Most contamination seems to come not from the field but from the processing and washing. And it is on the surface of the lettuce. The root structure of the veggie will not allow bacteria to pass through. Once the leaves are separated, I suppose, the channels could allow bacteria in. But most is on the surface.

So wash it well (one outbreak apparently happened because the 'prewashed' lettuce was washed with contaminated water).

We live in a country of some 300 million folks and outbreaks are fairly rare.

They should be stopped, sure, but there are culinary adventures I take, knowing the risk. I eat raw shellfish, and at times, raw meat. My hamburgers are always rare (although I usually grind the stuff myself. It keeps the contamination down, but do it because I think we make a better product).

And I wash my salad greens and that is all.

And I eat lettuce with impunity.

You have to do what you feel comfortable doing. But I will eat green salads (am not a particular fan of iceburg lettuce) without a thought.
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