Lettuce recalls are everywhere this summer, take care

My Garden Bar salad

After my first stent was put in back in 2012, the hospital nutritionist I consulted with basically told me the only thing I could eat for lunch was lettuce.

This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese
Salads like this Costco one have been off my menu this summer because of recall after recall.

So lunch salads have pretty much become my daily routine. But not this summer. Lettuce recalls have been popping up at both places to eat out like McDonald’s and food retailers like Trader Joe’s and Kroger. 

Most of them are because of the pesky parasite known as cyclospora cayetanenis which can do horrible things inside your stomach.The latest recall deals with more than two dozens products sold at Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Walgreen’s. And it wasn’t just pre-made salads, it was wraps and other items that had pieces of lettuce in them!

Earlier this year, McDonald’s stopped selling its salads at more than 3,000 outlets in Illinois and elsewhere because of the same parasite. As of late July, 163 people have become ill from contaminated McDonald’s salads. I had eaten two McDonald’s salads the week I later heard about this, but luckily was not affected. McDonald’s is now again selling salads, supposedly from a new supplier.

Earlier in the summer, another nemesis, e. coli, forced the recall of romaine lettuce. That outbreak, which infected 210 people in 36 states, appears to be over.

Why all the problems? Likely contaminated water coming in contact with the lettuce. Processing speeds are so fast now, it can be difficult to detect contaminated product with only spot checking at a plant.

Other foods have been recalled this summer as well, like Ritz crackers and even the humble Goldfish crackers. So, to quote a character in the old Hill Street Blues TV show, “let’s be careful out there.”

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