For busy cooks, bagged salad greens are an advantage. They\u2019re pre-washed, which makes it easier to put dinner on the table faster. For some people, there\u2019s no soaking, rinsing, or drying the leaves in salad a spinner.\nA world-renowned health care provider and insurer with Pennsylvania roots. Learn more about UPMC.\nBut bagged salads could be harboring a dirty, and possibly deadly, secret: They provide a rich breeding ground for a pathogen associated with foodborne illness.\nIt\u2019s Not Easy Being Green: Salmonella Risk in Bagged Greens\nLeafy greens should be part of any healthy diet, whether you lightly cook them or toss them with other veggies in a salad. They\u2019re great sources of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. But that\u2019s not all bagged salad greens might contain. According to a recent laboratory\u00a0study, the environment inside these plastic bags might help foster the growth of salmonella, a type of bacteria that is a leading cause of food poisoning.\nRELATED:\u00a0The Skinny on Food Safety\u00a0\nResearchers at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom conducted experiments in which they smashed a variety of salad greens sold in plastic bags, including green lettuce, red romaine lettuce, and spinach.\nThey then analyzed how these salad \u201cjuices\u201d acted in a moist, warm environment that mimicked the environment found in plastic bags. The investigators found that salmonella growth increased 2,400-fold in the damaged leaves, compared to in whole leaves. They believe that the juices formed by smashing the leaves made salmonella more likely to adhere to them.\nRELATED: Is Carbonated Water Healthy?\nShould You Bag It? Risks Associated with Bagged Salad\nSo should you pass on bagged greens? Not necessarily. Although this study found that damaged leaves in moist environments are more apt to attract salmonella, it did not actually show that all bagged salad greens are contaminated with this type of bacteria. (However, previous reports have identified\u00a0E. coli\u00a0and other bacteria in some bagged greens.)\nIf you choose to use bagged salad greens, take these sensible precautions:\n\nWash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (always after using the bathroom) and before preparing or eating food.\nStore bagged greens in the refrigerator to keep the moist environment in check.\nWash salad greens before eating them, even if the label reads \u201cpre-washed\u201d or \u201ctriple-washed.\u201d To clean your salad, place your greens or lettuce into a large bowl that contains a few inches of cold water. Swish the leaves around the bowl. Dirt and debris will sink to the bottom of the bowl, while the leaves will float.\nDiscard leaves that look damaged.\nEat the greens before the \u201cuse-by\u201d date on the bag.\n\nFor more information, or to find a primary care doctors, visit www.UPMC.com\/PCP or call 1-855-676-UPMCPCP.