Isn’t it convenient to pull out a packet of greens from the shelf and munch on it in the name of eating clean and healthy? Prepacked salad is an ultimate mealtime arrangement. Most of them come with already washed veggies that are chopped and packed with salad dressing and sometimes, crunchy toppings. What if we tell you that those healthy-looking packs might not be as healthy as you think, and may even lead to food-borne diseases like E. coli, norovirus, or salmonella. Shocked? Read on as we uncover the truth behind prepackaged salad mixes and their nutritional value.
1. The Nutritional Angle
Thanks to our high school knowledge, we know that food is at the peak of its freshness right after its harvesting. And as the time passes, the food begins to lose its nutrients. So, there is no rocket science that packed food loses most of its nutrition by the time it reaches the superstore shelf. To increase the shelf life of food, manufacturers use a process called MAF or Modified Atmosphere Packaging that reduces oxidation of food. As a result, nutrients like vitamin C and folates are compromised.
2. The Risk of Contamination
1.3.The Risk of Contamination
If you don’t mind food that a little low on nutrition, the risk of contamination will be something you mind. Most of the veggies are directly stuffed in the bags right after cleaning. Some companies claim to clean the contents of the salad mix for as many as 3 times. But, the risk of contamination still exists. Moreover, there is no record of any kind of cleaner being used. The chemical wash tends to be absorbed by the vegetables and may enter your body causing more harm than good.
4. The Concerns of Packaging
Okay, even if the food is excellent, what about the packet. The packaging process is mostly compromised. Most of the salad mixes are wrapped inside thermocol plate with cellophane covering. This might lead to spoilage of food. Even if you are convinced that your food is in an airtight container, there are fair chances that the containers might not be sanitized. Food manufacturing companies mostly outsource containers and they undergo a lot of procedures before finally settling down with the veggies. Thus it is essential to make sure that the packaging is hygienic.
5. What about Freshness?
Did you know that most of the veggies that make their way through salad mixes are actually from cold storages? In most cases, the vegetables are stored in bundles for days, sometimes even months before they are ready to be packed and shipped to the retail sellers. By this time, there is nothing left except stale pulp with minimum nutrition. This does not make them a perfect snacking option.
Professor Pennington, a bacteriology expert at the University of Aberdeen, says that prepacked salad can lead to food poisoning. He believed that it is generally safer to eat a burger than a prepacked salad. As a verdict, it’s clear that nothing is as beneficial as fresh, organic, self-washed, diced and self-prepared salad. Although it sounds like a lot of effort, but if you really want all the goodness, fresh produce is definitely worth it!