Dr. Issmat Kassem, a microbiologist and certified professional in food safety, shared a scientific report showing the levels of bacterial contamination in certain foods as part of a series of studies related to food safety in Lebanon.
Following a scientific study showing severe levels of E. coli contamination in the Akkawi cheese sold in Beirut, Dr. Kassem and his students conducted a proof-of-work examination to reveal the levels of bacterial contamination in salads containing fruits and vegetables.
The report covers multiple Lebanese regions: Zahle, Baalbak, Marj, Rashya, and Hermel. It also focuses on a selection of three different fruits and three different vegetables regularly used in salads in Lebanon.
According to Dr. Kassem, the fruits and the vegetables were bought from a range of different markets in the country, and each set of fruits and veggies was washed with the tap water of a specific region.
Subsequently, different salads were made using each set of fruits and veggies, and, then, a sample was taken from each salad to detect the amount of bacterial contamination in them.
The shared scientific study reveals the presence of three different types of bacteria: Fecal Coliforms, Staphylococci, and S. aureus.
The results indicate a significantly high level of bacterial contamination in the salads after applying the usual cleaning process that people use. Specifically, the results indicate a significant presence of fecal contamination.
To avoid such bacterial contaminations, Dr. Kassem advises people to thoroughly clean their fruits and vegetables with cold running tap water to remove all visible dirt.
He also recommends sanitizing them by soaking them for one minute in drinking water containing chlorine (220 ppm) that is used for food. Then, the fruits and veggies must be properly cleaned with potable running water to remove the chlorine.
Food poisoning is now a widespread phenomenon in the country due to various and simultaneous crises in the country, and food safety has become an integral part of daily life in Lebanon.