LOS ANGELES - Finding a hair or fly in your food may now be the least of your worries according to a new study, which has begun to tally up incidents in which people found frogs, lizards and even bats in their prepackaged salads.
The study, published in Science of The Total Environment, says that finding these vertebrates in your prepackaged produce may be more common than you think.
According to the study, there have been 40 incidents detected since 2003, with 38 occurring within the last decade. One of the animals found was a dead bat in a packaged salad purchased from a grocery store in Florida.
While those numbers don’t seem high, one frog or bat in your salad is one too many, especially when there have been 10 instances in which the animals were found alive.
In 2017, a woman in California found a live frog in her Target salad. She posted a picture of the amphibian living in her lunch on Facebook.
Researchers found that the majority of the animals found were frogs and lizards, discovered in various brands of packaged salads, specifically, in non-organic salads.
“This is the first review quantifying incidents of vertebrates found by customers in prepackaged produce, yet it remains unclear whether these occurrences indicate a food-safety crisis or a complaint against food quality,” the study says.
The study says that prepackaged salads have grown in popularity, and with rapid growth as well as increasing reliance on automated production to meet the demand, small vertebrates seem to be bypassing safety features to find solitude in your packaged salads.
“One might expect food-safety professionals to mount a serious response when these incidents occur given the genuine threat that wild animals can pose to human health through contaminated produce,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers went on to say that while these encounters may signal “an overburdened produce supply chain,” there is not enough information to determine whether or not this is a food-safety problem or a food-quality concern.
“Nevertheless, wild animals can spread diseases to humans via contaminated produce, therefore we contend that industry professionals can reduce the potential health risk to their consumers and negative economic consequences to themselves through increased attention to this matter,” researchers concluded.