Salads or smoothies: Food made from leaves can contain pathogens

Pathogens in food from leaves and grasses
Most Germans eat salad several times a week. Teas and smoothies are also regularly served by many. Experts are now pointing out that pathogens can be found in foods that contain leaves or grasses. However, there are ways to minimize health risks.

Germans are eating more and more leaf and grass products
According to a recent study, it is becoming increasingly important for many Germans to eat healthier. The consumption of meat, sugar and high-fat food is reduced. Healthy foods are on the rise. As the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) now reports, leaf and grass products are increasingly consumed in Germany. However, these can be contaminated with various pathogens, the experts write in a message. They must therefore always be washed thoroughly.

Necessary hygiene measures
"Salads, leafy greens, herbs, teas and green smoothies are perceived by most people as all-round healthy foods," said BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.

“It is all the more important to point out that hygiene measures are also necessary for these foods. Regardless, a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is actually the best nutritional strategy. "

The BfR has now published a detailed statement on the contamination of leaf and grass products with bacteria that can cause illness in humans.

Products rated include fresh leafy greens including lettuce and herbs, dried leaf and grass products such as supplements, dried herbs and tea leaves, and green smoothies.

Bacterial pathogens
According to the BfR, leaf lettuce and fresh herbs in Germany are consumed very frequently by almost the entire population. Tea is consumed more often by women than by men, and tea consumption increases with age.

Bacterial pathogens that can occur in grass and leaf products include Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, Listeria and EHEC.

According to the information, there are only a few documented cases of bacterial food infections in Germany from eating grass or leaf products.

Recommendations for risk minimization
Nevertheless, to protect consumers, the BfR makes the following general recommendations for risk minimization:

Fresh leaf products should be thoroughly washed before consumption and consumed as quickly as possible. Chopped fresh leaf products should be stored at a maximum of seven degrees, if possible, and consumed quickly before consumption.

Freshly made green smoothies should, if possible, be stored at a maximum of seven degrees and consumed on the day of production.

The acidification of the smoothies, for example by processing citrus fruits or adding lemon juice, can slow down or even prevent the multiplication of the bacteria.

Herbal teas should be infused with boiling water.

As packaged salads can pose a health risk, pregnant women and people whose defenses are weakened by old age, previous illnesses or taking medication should avoid eating them as a precaution and instead prepare salads from fresh and thoroughly washed ingredients shortly before consumption.

Food supplements made from dried leaf and grass products should only be consumed by these people after consulting a doctor. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Romaine Lettuce Green Smoothie (December 2021).