Dead Lizard In Salad Shocks Restaurant Patron

WKQX-Radio Channel 101.1 posted this photo of the lizard on its Twitter feed.

FOOD SAFETY NEWS – Local media in the Seattle area are reporting the a woman found a dead lizard in her restaurant salad.

Maniza Qureshi reported the incident to Seattle & King County Public Health after the shocking experience with a lunchtime salad from an Evergreens restaurant.

“No other complaints of foreign items in the salad have been received by this location. Based on the items placed in the salad, it is possible that the lizard came in one of the sealed packages of greens,” a report from Public Health’s inspector said.

Seattle-based food safety attorney Bill Marler, an expert in the field of food safety, told KIRO-TV Channel 7 that finding creatures in food is not as rare as you might think.

“Snakes, mice, spiders, sometimes live things, sometimes not live things,” Marler said. “The positive thing is, even though these things are grotesque, most of the time they don’t cause human illness.”

“Insects, slugs, frogs and snails may be found on greens destined for fresh cut produce. Washing will usually remove these creatures, but occasionally they manage to hang on through the whole process and end up in a bagged salad.” – Food Safety Magazine, April 1, 2014

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Qureshi told the news outlet that part of a leg and the tail of the lizard were missing, leaving her to wonder if she ingested parts of the animal or if other customers’ food might have been contaminated.

The shocked restaurant patron also spoke with WKQX-Radio Channel 101.1, which posted a photo of the salad with the lizard on its Twitter feed.

Other area media reported that the restaurant management was just as shocked as their customer.

Ian Courtnage, the CEO of Evergreens, told the TV channel that the company pays a premium to suppliers to ensure the lettuce and greens they get are good to go.

“We’re working with a national supplier that triple washes, cuts, and bags the greens so they’re ready to eat for us – specifically to avoid any issues,” Courtnage said, adding that they immediately contacted the supplier to figure out what went wrong.

“A bagged salad mix is being investigated as a source of the cyclospora stomach bug outbreak that has caused hundreds of cases of diarrhea.” – QUALITY ASSURANCE & FOOD SAFETY, July 31, 2013

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Qureshi told media outlets that she went public with the situation because she thinks the restaurant employees should have noticed the animal when they were preparing her salad.

“Staff were already required to go through the greens while filling the service container,” according to the Public Health report.

The report also said the supplier for lettuce is from California but did not indicate where the kale was grown.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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