Although salads are generally very healthy, they do require some special handling to keep them that way.
- Consider cross-contamination. Keep two different cutting boards in the kitchen to prevent cross-contamination. Designate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use the other board for fruits and vegetables or other ready-to-eat foods.
- Wash, wash, wash. Wash fruits and vegetables under cold water, even if it's bagged and says "triple washed," "pre-washed" or "ready-to-eat." Washing removes soil and residue. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables with a clean produce brush. Remove and throw away outer leaves of lettuce. After prepping, put produce in clean containers, not in original bags or containers.
- Store produce safely. Keep fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- Refrigerate. Leave salad in the refrigerator (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) until the very last moment. The longer it sits out at room temperature, the more time bacteria has to grow. Never leave anything out longer than 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit). Homemade mayonnaise-based dressings or salads with proteins will spoil faster. Commercially prepared mayonnaise has preservatives and therefore won't spoil as fast.