Spain sees hazy skies as Sahara dust storm blows in
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The supermarket giants advise customers to wash fruit or veg before eating it amid fears it could have been dirtied by desert dust. A plume called Storm Celia swept across Europe from the Sahara Desert last month, blanketing parts of southern Spain and France.
Tesco has said the dust affected some of its crops coming from Spain, issuing a warning to customers.
It said in a statement: “Due to the recent winds from the Sahara Desert, a small amount of dust has settled on our Spanish crops.
“Please ensure you wash your fruit and veg products before enjoying. Thank you for supporting our growers and preventing food waste by continuing to buy these products.”
A Tesco spokesman added: “Following recent winds from the Sahara, a small amount of dust settled on some of our Spanish crops.
“This is nothing to be concerned about and we’re simply recommending that customers continue to wash their fruit and vegetable products before eating or cooking as usual.”
Products which might be affected by the Saharan dust are iceberg lettuce, little gem lettuce and celery.
Signs have also been spotted in Aldi stores, stating: “Please give your veg an extra rinse.
“Due to recent winds from the Sahara Desert, a small amount of dust may have settled in some of our packs.
“Thank you for supporting our growers and helping to reduce food waste by continuing to buy these products.”
Experts agree it is always advisable to wash fruit and vegetables before eating them to make sure they are clean and to help remove bacteria.
Most of the bacteria will be in soil on the produce so washing it to remove any is considered to be particularly important.
Bacteria causing food poisoning include listeria, salmonella, E.coli and norovirus.
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Saharan dust moving across Europe hit the UK on March 16, turning the skies orange and red over southern parts of England.
The dust cloud, which was about 2km above ground level, hit Sussex, Kent and London.
People found dust on their cars as rain washed it out of the sky, but there were no significant impacts expected at the time, according to the Met Office.
Richard Miles from the Met Office said at the time: “Storm Celia over Spain is indeed pulling a dust cloud up from the Sahara, which could potentially reach as far as the south of the UK.
“However, we don’t expect significant impacts – the most likely would be on the cloudscapes at sunset, but as conditions are likely to be generally overcast and wet for much of the day this is unlikely to amount to much. There are no air quality warnings.”
Met Office meteorologist, Dan Stroud, explained the orange and red colours were caused by Rayleigh scattering from additional particles in the air.
He said: “The dust in the atmosphere causes the light to be more refracted, so you get the dominance of the red and orange tinges of the spectrum.”
Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma UK, has warned of the risks posed by Saharan dust.
He said: “Toxic air can leave people struggling for breath and can cause wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and even a life-threatening asthma attack.”
“Saharan dust could pose a serious risk to the 5.4 million people in the UK with asthma.”
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