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A Good Review on How Produce is Commercially Cleaned

In digging up what's behind the recent E. coli scare with organic spinach, a disturbing feature in this morning's USA Today describes how leafy greens are cleaned before you buy them at the grocery store.

Standard operating procedures call for spinach and lettuce to be washed three times prior to be being bagged, and twice in chlorine.The intent of this triple-washing: Preventing the spread of bacteria,but not to "surface-sanitize" produce, according to a industry reportissued earlier this year. And, there's no blue ribbon "kill step"known, one expert says, that doesn't damage leafy vegetables either.

More interesting factoids about the produce you buy at the grocery store and chlorine:

  • Sprouts, apples, melons and tomatoes are washed with chlorinated water too.
  • Washing produce with regular water -- and no chlorine -- removes as much as 90 percent of the harmful bacteria anyway.
  • Fifteen to 20 ppm of free chlorine is considered the typical amount experts say is needed to kill bacteria.

So, if chlorine can kill E. coli bacteria, among other things, when added to water, why would you want to drink or possibly eat it?

A better way to find the fruits and vegetables your body needs: Review this recent checklist of sources to help you locate organic farmers in your area.

USA Today October 5, 2006

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