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The report finds listeria in leafy vegetables sold at supermarkets



NEW YORK (CBS) Consumer reports discovered that some green vegetables that were recently sold at supermarkets were contaminated with a potentially lethal bacterium. Here's what you need to know.

Consumer reports tested 284 samples with fresh greens, including lettuce, spinach and kale, sold at supermarkets. They found six of these specimens possessed with listeria, a potentially lethal bacterium. Two of the samples were packed and pre-washed, the other four were loose heads or clusters.

"Washing does not necessarily remove bacteria," said Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports. "The bacteria can get stuck in the leaves and attach themselves to microscopic cracks, so washing is not a guarantee that a salad or a green will not have bacteria in it."

Calvo says that people at high risk of complications from listeria are elderly, pregnant and young children. She suggests not considering eating raw green greens.

"The safest thing for them to do is eat greens they can cook," Calvo said.

The seized greens were sold by four different food retailers in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in June.

Public health officials have not reported any diseases or concerns after their own inspections.

Consumer reports advise no one to stop eating leaf green vegetables, but instead want consumers to pay attention to food safety.

"One thing you can do to protect yourself is to eat them as soon as you buy them," Calvo said. "You won't give the bacteria time to grow if it's on the greens."

A trade association representing retailers, wholesalers and suppliers selling products to grocery stores, says: "The events described in consumer reports remind us that the entire supply chain has a responsibility for safe food handling."

Calvo says a way to minimize bacterial risk is to avoid raw greens at restaurants.

Exposure to listeria can cause the disease listeriosis which usually requires hospitalization and can lead to death.

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