WISO, which airs Mondays on German broadcaster ZDF, tested salads sold at five supermarkets in the southern city of Stuttgart. The in-house brands sold by supermarket chains Rewe, Edeka, Aldi Süd and Netto were sampled, as was a blend of greens by Italian brand Barduca that was sold at the organic grocery store Alnatura.
According to the lab results, the total number of germs in the salad sold by Alnatura was above the values set out in guidelines by the German Society of Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM). In particular, the yeast and mould germ content exceeded accepted standards.
Horst Pieldner, the food chemist who carried out the tests, said that by its best-before date, Alnatura's salad was “already very mushy, with noticeable brown spots, and the package also contained a residue of liquid.”
A higher yeast content was also found in the salad sold by discount supermarket chain Netto – but not the other brands. The Netto greens showed a number of red spots and discolouration where the lettuce had been cut.
The salad available at Alnatura was also found to contain listeria bacteria, but not a kind that is dangerous to humans.
Alnatura expressed regret over the findings, claiming it adhered strictly to refrigeration guidelines, but acknowledged that ambient air temperatures during the first half of September were also relatively high.
In response to the WISO test, Alnatura said it would move up the best-before dates on its precut salads and add a packaging label advising consumers to wash the greens before eating.
Netto also said it regretted the sample's findings, which it called an “isolated case,” adding that the problem had been fixed and that the company was committed to product quality and food safety.