Consumer Reports tested 284 samples of fresh greens and found Listeria in 6 samples.
Two samples were packaged, pre-washed spinach and a spinach-spring mix. Four samples were loose bunches of kale, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and spinach.
One product tested positive for a strain of Listeria that is genetically linked to at least 2 reports of people who were infected with Listeria. The product was a “triple-washed” Nature’s Place Organic Spinach Spring Mix purchased at a Hannaford supermarket.
Other products that tested positive for Listeria include:
- Acme—unbranded, unbagged red leaf lettuce
- Costco—bagged spinach from Boskovich Farms (marked “triple washed”)
- Hannaford—unbranded, unbagged spinach
- Whole Foods—unbagged green kale from Lancaster Farm and unbranded, unbagged green leaf lettuce.
In response, the FDA said it is reviewing the organization’s data.
James. E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports, said, “The safest thing is to stick with greens you can cook.”
Dr. Rogers warned that people who are more likely to be affected by Listeria should “carefully consider” whether to eat lettuce and other raw leafy greens — particularly pregnant women, older adults, young children, and people with vulnerable immune systems.
Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures and survive in the freezer. In pregnant women, infections with Listeria can cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
The symptoms of a Listeria infection can include a fever, muscle aches, headaches, and diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. If the infection spreads, it can cause meningitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), with symptoms such as a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.