Norway – Infectious substances in lettuce and herbs 2017-2019


Lettuce and herbs on the Norwegian market mainly have good hygienic quality, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s monitoring program shows. However, the samples analysed make up a small proportion of the total amount of lettuce and herbs sold.

What did we investigate? Imported and Norwegian-produced salad and fresh imported herbs

A total of 580 samples – 426 of lettuce and 154 of herbs

Period: 2017 -2019
What were we looking for? E. coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium , hepatitis A virus and norovirus.

Not all analyses were performed on all samples.

What did we find? In the 575 samples analysed for E. coli , was detected E. coli in low numbers (<100 cfu / g) in 57 samples and E. coli ≥100 cfu / g in 36 samples. 13 samples contained such high values ​​of E. coli that the products were withdrawn from the market. 10 of these were imported herbs from Southeast Asia.

Salmonella, Cryptosporidium , hepatitis A virus or norovirus were not detected in any of the samples analysed for these infectious agents.

Findings of high values ​​of E. coli in lettuce and herbs indicate a fresh faecal contamination, which may indicate that the product may also be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. Herbs from Southeast Asia are a known risk product for Salmonella . The Norwegian Food Safety Authority recommends that such herbs be heat-treated before they are eaten.

Who performed the assignment? The bacterial analyses were performed at the Veterinary Institute and the parasite and virus analyses at NMBU Veterinary College.

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