Listeria, Salmonella and Co: germs harmful to health in ready-made salads

Listeria, Salmonella and Co: germs harmful to health in ready-made salads

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Ready-made salads are often contaminated with harmful germs

Raw food is the trend. Due to the uncooked preparation method, foods such as salads or sprouts are left in their natural state and thus heat-sensitive vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes are not destroyed. However, health-threatening germs can also be found in such products, experts warn.

Pathogens in salads

Healthy salads are an important part of a balanced diet. However, they should always be washed well before consumption and ideally freshly prepared. Care should be taken with pre-cut products from the supermarket. Because there are some pathogens in it. This reports the Max Rubner Institute (MRI) from Karlsruhe.

Results of a three-year research project presented

In a three-year research project, the MRI examined the microbiological quality of fresh, plant-based products and has now submitted a report with the results.

According to a bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella or Escherichia coli, the focus of the study.

As in the past, it was found that ready-made salads and sprouts are problematic from a microbiological point of view.

600 fresh, herbal products examined

Since vegetables and fruits are often eaten raw, good microbiological quality is particularly important.

According to the experts, the outbreak of an infection with EHEC, disease-causing enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, made it clear once again in 2011 that herbal products can also be contaminated with human-pathogenic, i.e. harmful microorganisms.

In the MRI study, a total of 600 fresh, plant-based products (leaf, picking and mixed salads, ready-to-eat salads (ie pre-cut, washed salad mixes and ready-to-eat salads), cucumbers, herbs, carrots and sprouts) and mushrooms were examined .

Microbiological quality was insufficient

The investigation showed that the microbiological quality of the cucumbers, carrots and mushrooms was consistently good.

In carrots and edible mushrooms, only a few, if any, human-pathogenic bacteria (potentially germ-causing germs) could be detected, cucumbers were not at all objectionable.

The microbiological quality of the herbs was acceptable. The total bacterial load was relatively high on average, but no human-pathogenic bacteria could be detected.

The experts rated the microbiological quality of the lettuce, leaf and picking salads as good to medium.

Although there have been isolated human pathogenic bacteria, the bacterial load is reduced here by measures such as cleaning and washing before consumption by the consumer.

However, the microbiological quality of the ready-to-eat mixed salads was “insufficient”: at six percent, these products showed the highest percentage in comparison to the product groups that were contaminated with human-pathogenic bacteria.

Health risks cannot be excluded

The German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM) defines the standard and warning values ​​for ready-to-eat mixed salads and sprouts.

These guidelines represent a recommendation regarding the hygienic-microbiological product status.

In the ready-to-eat mixed salads, 42 percent of the samples examined were above the guideline values ​​for the total number of bacteria. Warning values ​​were also exceeded in some cases.

According to the MRI, it is made more difficult by the fact that, as the name suggests, consumers consume mixed salads directly.

The microbiological quality of the sprouts was also "insufficient", here too the total number of germs was very high; in some cases human-pathogenic bacteria could be detected.

Due to the exceeding of the warning values ​​in some ready-to-eat mixed salads and sprouts, according to the MRI, "a health risk to consumers cannot be excluded".

Experiments carried out in this study on the storage of ready-to-eat salads and sprouts showed that, especially when not properly stored (elevated temperature, long storage period), they can multiply and colonize with human-pathogenic bacteria.

The MRI therefore advises:

  • Sprouts should not be eaten raw, but should always be blanched.
  • The storage time of ready-to-eat mixed salads is to be reduced to a minimum, the storage temperature should not exceed 4 ° C.
  • Ready-to-eat salads should be consumed immediately after opening the packaging. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: What is Campylobacter? Why is food safety important to prevent it? (May 2022).


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  3. Rafik

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