(May 3) On “Dateline NBC,” Lori Olson told the world she would never eat a bagged salad again.

“Who would think that you could eat lettuce and almost die?” said Olson, whose daughter became infected with E. coli 0157 bacteria traced back to a bagged salad.

But even after watching that tear-laced interview, Jerry Welcome, president of Alexandria, Va.-based International Fresh-cut Produce Association, said the “Dateline” report on bagged salad April 30 was fairly balanced.

“It wasn’t the typical hatchet job you get from the media when they want to sensationalize a story,” Welcome said May 1. “We tried our best to give them the facts and figures and that had some bearing on the overall story.”

The show began by introducing two cases of E. coli 0157 bacteria outbreaks that occurred last fall in Minnesota. Scientists found the same strain of E. coli in a consumer’s leftover lettuce.

The show also mentioned a voluntary recall of the “American Blend” and “Classic Romaine” bagged salads by Dole Fresh Fruit Co., Westlake Village, Calif. The show added that the recall happened after at least 26 people in three states had become sick.

It also mentioned statistical details — for instance, the Food and Drug Administration has reported at least 19 foodborne illness outbreaks associated with leafy greens since 1995. Two people have died and 425 have become seriously ill from such outbreaks.

“Dateline” mentioned that the produce industry said 6 million bags of salad are sold every day in the U.S.

Then, the show discussed possible sources of contamination. Robert Brackett, head of food safety for the FDA, said finding the source of E. coli contamination is like finding a needle in a haystack.

In the “Dateline” interview, Jim Gorny, vice president of quality assurance for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Washington, D.C., said there is no proof that the contamination stems from the lettuce.

The produce industry, according to “Dateline,” theorizes that the outside of the lettuce bags became contaminated, only reaching the lettuce after the bag was opened.

Contamination may occur during processing, the show mentioned.

On May 1, Gorny also said he thought the show was fairly balanced.

“But data is data, and they certainly turned some of the assumptions into facts,” Gorny said.