How Does Salad Being "Triple Washed"?
How Does Salad Being “Triple Washed” ?
Long gone are the days where food delivery service applies only to fast food. As Malaysian citizens are more conscious of healthy diet day by day, there are many healthy food deliveries available especially within the Klang Valley. Eating healthily is way easier than before but the question is – do the raw ingredients used for the preparation of healthy diet are truly healthy?
Speaking of healthy eating or clean eating, a word will come into our mind – salad. In fact, salad is not the main representative of healthy eating but undoubtedly, it is one of the most popular food in healthy diet, which is why people will think of salad first when they heard healthy eating.
A variety of salads with various combinations of meat, veggies, fruits and dressings are available today. Some people prefer making their own salad while some prefer buying ready-to-eat salads especially during those busy times.
Many people who practice healthy eating or clean eating don’t have time to prepare their meals because the process of washing the vegetables, preparing the ingredients, cooking the meals is time-consuming. Recognising this, major lettuce producers saw an opportunity to capitalise on consumers’ love for convenience. Many brands now offer packages of salad that state that they are “Triple Washed” or “Ready to Eat.”
However, because salad packages don’t explain the details of these washes, customers are left wondering about the safety and cleanliness of their food. To understand what these terms actually mean, let us explore what the washing process entails.
What is Triple Washing?
Commercial triple-washing can take on a variety of approaches. In general, it means that your greens have been harvested and then cleaned with a light, “pre-wash” at the farm. Next, the leaves are then moved to a processing site and either manually or mechanically passed through two separate baths of liquid, dried and packaged.
The bathing that these vegetables undergo is a vigorous process. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is not primarily intended for sanitising purpose. Since the conventional lettuce and other greens that go into our salads are grown in sprawling fields full of soil, rocks, sand and dust. The triple-wash process is performed mainly to remove all these soil and dust.
When additional process such as cutting is carried out on the vegetables, these vegetables are exposed to the risk of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination may occur from the extra contact with humans and new surfaces throughout the entire chain from harvesting to packaging. Therefore, these vegetables have to be bathed in sanitising solution.
The sanitising solution that is used in commercial-scale washing of greens often consists of one or more of these compounds: chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide and peroxy acetic acid. These disinfectants help to reduce the risk of cross-contamination in the processing plant.
In brief, the triple washing process is meant to wash the salad primarily to reduce the soil and rocks that hide in the folds of lettuce leaves, reduce the risk of cross-contamination as well as to be able to market and sell a “ready to eat” product to consumers.
Does Triple Washed Salad Need to Be Rewashed at Home?
A very common question from salad lovers. There is a good reason to be curious because the washing steps are not described on the package. This led to consumers often wondering about those behind-the-curtains processing of commercial lettuce.
The short answer to the question is that if greens are labelled as triple washed, pre-washed or ready to eat, they do not need to be washed at home unless otherwise stated on the packaging. The suggestion given by food safety experts is actually that these types of salads and lettuces should not be washed again at home as rewashing increases the risks of additional cross-contamination. There is a significant risk that your sink and chopping boards have new bacteria that could be introduced to the salad greens during an additional washing.
Is Triple Washed Salad Good or Bad for You?
To understand why a wash might be a valuable stage of processing, it is important to think about how lettuce is grown – very low to the earth that enables soil, faecal matter or applied fertilisers and pesticides to engrain in the small folds and ridges in the leaves. Moreover, lettuce is harvested and handled by numerous farm-workers, processors and distributors. So, cross-contamination from human contact is introduced at each stage involved in getting the produce to you.
To reduce cross-contamination, chemicals similar to the ones you use to clean your pool or whiten your clothes (although in much diluted versions), are being applied to your vegetables. Recognising these washing steps, you have to decide if you are comfortable with triple washing using chemicals.
Therefore, from a consumer stand-point, these are all key pieces of information that must be kept in mind when deciding if triple washed salad is right for you. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumers to determine what they value when purchasing produce. Our goal is to demystify some of that decision making process for you.
At Vegetory, we grow all of our greens using hydroponic technology in a clean and contaminant-free, indoor environment. This means that we grow without soil, and don’t need to apply pesticides and fertilisers to your food. Our farm (also known as plant factory) and team members adhere to the highest standards of sanitation and ensure that our greens are incredibly clean from seedling to packaging.
Since our vegetables are cultivated in a soil-less environment, there is no rocks or soil that can hide in the ridges of the leafy greens, unlike in traditional farming. As a result, we skip the steps of washing our produce after harvesting. We feel that adding extra stages of processing before our clean product gets to you offers no added benefit. It only creates opportunities for cross-contamination from outside sources. Thus, the fresh produce only goes through washing steps at your home before serving on your table. This minimise the risk of cross-contamination of the vegetables you eat to the lowest possible.
If you wash our fresh produce after receiving, please do so under cold running water in a sink that has been sanitised to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. Stay safe and enjoy the truly fresh and healthy greens from Vegetory.
Author: Christine S.H. Lee