Food safety: How clean is your spinach really?

Food safety: How clean is your spinach really?

There are so many reasons to eat spinach. It is part of the cruciferous vegetable family and is well known as one of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet. It is packed with almost every nutrient imaginable, and with nutrition comes health benefits.

Have you ever seen the terms ‘pre-washed’ or ‘triple-washed’ on a container of spinach at the supermarket and wondered what it meant? According to researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), it is not as clean as it sounds. So how clean is your spinach really?

The UCR researchers discovered that the small peaks and valleys in baby spinach leaves could be the main reason why the vegetable has been involved in many bacterial outbreaks recently.

Currently, disinfectant is put into the water, instead of applied directly to the leaves. Because of this, bacteria may continue to live, grow, and thrive, as well as spread to other surfaces in the facility.

The researchers rinsed the leaves under the low bleach condition, and up to 90 percent of the bacteria on the leaves remained intact.

In a sense the leaf is protecting the bacteria and allowing it to spread,” said Nichola M. Kinsinger, a post-doctoral researcher working with Sharon Walker, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering. “It was surprising to discover how the leaf surface formed micro-environments that reduce the bleach concentration and in this case the very disinfection processes intended to clean, remove, and prevent contamination was found to be the potential pathway to amplifying foodborne outbreaks.”

Despite their findings, Kinsinger notes that the United States has one of safest food supply system. Still, she says, “I recommend rinsing those leaves.”

To be safe, always rinse vegetables and fruits, and try the Fruit & Veggie Wash from Earth Friendly Products to thoroughly clean your produce.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only.

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1. “How Clean Is Your Spinach?UCR Today. University of California Riverside, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Aug. 2015.
2. “How Clean Is Your Spinach?ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Aug. 2015.

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