Are bagged greens just as good as fresh ones?

By Ea Francisco | Photo by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

It’s no question that packaged salad is a step up from chips and cookies, but it also comes with its own risks. Despite being seemingly fresh, prepackaged salads are still processed, and you can’t be completely certain how clean it is.

For one, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria the longer you leave it. A study by the University of Leicester found that moisture from chopped greens can cause salmonella growth of up to 110 percent. Even when refrigerated, salmonella can easily attach itself to the vegetables’ juices and make it harder to wash off.

Packaged leafy greens can also have traces of Listeria and E. coli, both of which can infect the body and lead to illnesses. It doesn’t help that bacteria grows better in sealed, moist packages.

A study by the University of Leicester found that moisture from chopped greens can cause salmonella growth of up to 110 percent. Even when refrigerated, salmonella can easily attach itself to the vegetables’ juices and make it harder to wash off

In addition, some nutrients are water-soluble, which dissolves the more you wash them. Vitamins C and B are examples. One study found that spinach can lose half of its vitamin B in packaging, but the same study says that it can easily be resolved by refrigerating it. Though it may be the case, there’s still a considerable amount of nutrients in salads to make them healthy, and fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A, E, and K aren’t lost.

As much as possible, prepackaged salad should be eaten as soon as you buy them. You can store them in the refrigerator, but it should be chilled and not frozen. Frozen salad will moisten when you take it out and it will just ruin the freshness. What some people do to keep opened salads fresh is to put paper towel on top. Place or wrap the paper towel so that moisture doesn’t settle on the leaves, and store them again in ziplock. This can keep them fresh for about a week.

The biggest risk to prepackaged salads comes from the fact that you don’t really know where it’s been. It’s always better to buy straight from farmers. Fresh vegetables are, at least, less processed and give you the option to choose your combinations rather than settle for something generic.