Researchers have found that incidents of animals found in food produce is more common than was previously believed.
Everyone has a restaurant story about a slug in a salad, but study by the University of Illinois found that vertebrates were also commonly found packed into salad leaves.
Of forty incidents analysed, 50% of them involved frogs but lizards, snakes, mice, birds, and a bat, were discovered in salad greens, green beans, or mixed vegetables. Ten of these – nine frogs and one lizard – were alive.
The study focused on vertebrates found in pre-packaged produce in the United States since 2003 with 95% of incidents occurring between 2008 and 2018, suggesting a significant increase in the last decade.
Seven of the frog incidents involved Pacific Tree frogs, two of which were released into non-native habitats. Six rodents and three birds were also reported.
Of the media reports analysed in the study there was a correlation made in the media reports that finding a frog in a salad was more common if a produce was labled organic however, the study concluded that this was not the case. The majority of vertebrate discoveries were made in conventionally grown produce.
More worrying that any frog in a salad was the incident in 2017 of a dead bat found in packaged salad from a grocery store in Florida. This caused a rabies scare at the time and the CDC recommended post exposure rabies treatment for two people, albeit no traces of the disease were found in the bat.