Bats belong in the jungle, not in your salad. An unfortunate incident
happened recently where two people found a dead bat in a prepackaged salad
bought from a Walmart in Florida. This bat, from the Mexican free-tailed species, is
common in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America, so its
origins are difficult to determine. The main concern was whether the bat was
infected with rabies, which is possible with bats. The bat was tested for rabies, but it
was too decomposed to definitely determine whether it was infected. However, it is
rare for rabies to be transmitted through eating an infected animal, and the virus
cannot survive for very long outside a living animal.
Although this story might seem alarming and pretty off-putting, incidents like
these are actually very rare, and likely don’t have significant implications about food
safety. A serious concern would be multiple incidents like these from one source,
but an isolated incident like this one is more of a simple anomaly. Especially with
plants that are automated, bats or birds could enter the facility through an opening
like a vent and become caught in the production line.
Both Walmart and salad in general might suffer some decreased popularity
because of this incident. But compared to some other food-safety crises, this was
handled fairly well. The maker of the salad, Fresh Express, issued a recall after
hearing about the bat discovery. Worse food-safety problems occur when
companies fail to adequately test for the real killers – foodborne pathogens like
Salmonella, E. coli O157, and Listeria mono. So despite the unpleasant imagery,
nobody really needs to get a bee in their bonnet about a bat in their salad.