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New Listeria Warnings: Beware Leafy Green At Supermarkets, Restaurants

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A new report out Friday finds contamination concerns with leafy greens sold at supermarkets.

Some of the bacteria found has the potential to turn deadly, reports CBS2's Kenneth Craig.

Consumer reports tested 284 samples of fresh greens including lettuce, spinach and kale recently sold at supermarkets.

They found six of those samples tainted with listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria. Two samples were packaged and pre-washed, the other four were loose heads or bunches.

Washing does not necessarily remove bacteria. The bacteria can get stuck to the leaves and adhere in microscopic crevices, so washing is not a guarantee that a lettuce or a green won't have bacteria in it.

Consumer Reports' Trisha Calvo says people at the highest risk of complications from listeria - the elderly, pregnant women and young children - may consider not eating raw leafy greens.

The safest thing for them to do is to eat greens they can cook.

The tainted greens were sold at four different food retailers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York in June. Public health officials have not reported any illnesses or concerns following their own inspections.

Consumer reports is not advising anyone to stop eating leafy greens, but instead wants consumers to pay attention to food safety.

"One thing you can do to protect yourself is to eat them as soon as you buy them," said Calvo. "You don't want to give the bacteria to grow if it is on the greens."

A trade association that represents retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers that sell products to grocery stores says, "the incidents outlined in Consumer Reports remind us that the entire supply chain has a responsibility for safe food handling."

Calvo says one way to minimize bacteria risk is to avoid raw greens at restaurants.

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