When it comes to eating our greens, many Americans are willing to pay the extra cost of buying the ready to use bagged salads for the sake of convenience and because it is believed they do not need to be washed before serving.

But Emily Jones of the Starkville Daily News warns shoppers that those bagged salads may not be as safe as they seem: cases of E. coli bacteria have been found in the product which is distributed by a number of produce companies.

The State Health Department has issued the following guidelines on how consumers can protect themselves from E. coli bacteria in lettuce:

  • Be sure to wash your hands before handling lettuce or any raw produce – especially if you have been in contact with any raw meat.
  • Even though most of these bagged salads are pre-washed and labeled "Ready to Eat," dietitians recommend that they be washed again.
  • Keep salad refrigerated.
  • Check the expiration date before you eat it. Even if lettuce looks fresh, the E. coli can grow quickly in greens that are old.