I posted a note saying that the massive celery recall is an example of why I am so glad I shop at my local farmers markets for produce rather than at big retail grocery stores. I have nothing to worry about.
Someone asked me why I don’t have to check to see if my celery is affected by the recall:
Here are some reasons:
My celery is grown by local organic Roots Farm. It’s picked, trimmed, tossed in a box and brought to market with a few dozen bunches. If any of it is contaminated by e coli, it would likely not spread.
Most produce grown on a large scale is carefully washed and packaged in large processing plants, where–among other things–the veggies are given a quick bath in a bleach-based solution. Although most processing plants require rigorous cleanliness, with workers wearing protective clothing, hairnets and gloves, there is still a chance that e coli, salmonella or other bacteria can make their way into the system. Those bacteria are everywhere, but in cases like these they tend to be introduced by the food handlers who spread it.
So back to my celery. If I did get sick and it was traced to my farmer, only a small handful of people would be affected. But because my celery has been minimally processed, the chances it is infected are slim. The current recall has spread to more than a dozen states and affects many huge retailers, pointing to a single, very large, processing center.
Also, note that the majority of the affected foods are chicken salads and veggie trays where the celery was served raw. It would appear the celery wasn’t thoroughly washed before being used. So if you do buy your veggies at the grocery store, remember to give them a thorough rinse. While that won’t guarantee you don’t get sick, it will cut the chances.
Personally, I’m always wary of store-bought chicken salads because they are often made using old, unsold rotisserie chickens — and I like my chicken like I like my celery –fresh.