It sounds like an urban legend – a friend of a friend who knows someone who once took a bite of a live frog that had somehow found its way into their salad bowl – but to discover animals mixed with pre-packaged Salads have actually become something of a trend.
In fact, there have been so many reports of packed salads containing both living and dead creatures that scientists decided to investigate. The thesis, published in Science of The Total Environment contains details about which animals are found in store-bought salads, and where such events have been most frequently reported.
As the review explains, a total of 40 incidents of animals found in salads have been documented since 2003, but 38 of these 40 have come within the last 1[ads1]0 years. Since the study focused on online reports of such incidents, it does not necessarily mean that there has been an increase in critters in packaged salads, just that it tends to make news more frequently as it happens these days.
The report reveals a clear trend in the types of animals found in different brands of package salads, the vast majority of which are frogs or lizards. They were found in non-organic salads about three-quarters of the time, and as many as ten of the animals were still alive when the consumer discovered them. Of the critters still fired when the bag opened, nine of them were frogs and one was a lizard.
The researchers do not make any broad claims about how the frogs ended up in the products, but they do note that such a trend could pose a health risk to consumers in the future.
"This is the first assessment to quantify vertebrate incidents found by customers in pre-packaged products, but it is still unclear whether these occurrences indicate a food security crisis or a food quality complaint," the researchers write. "Nevertheless, wild animals can spread diseases to humans via contaminated products, which is why we argue that industry professionals can reduce the potential health risks to their consumers and negative financial consequences for themselves through increased awareness of this matter."