Over the past 10 years, there is an increasing demand for leafy green vegetables and their ready-to-eat (RTE) salads since people changed their eating habits because of healthier lifestyle interest. Nevertheless fresh leafy green vegetables and their RTE salads are recognized as a source of food poisoning outbreaks in many parts of the world. However, this increased proportion of outbreaks cannot be completely explained by increased consumption and enhanced surveillance of them. Both in Europe and in the USA, recent foodborne illness outbreaks have revealed links between some pathogens and some leafy green vegetables such as mostly lettuces and spinaches and their RTE salads since fresh leafy green vegetables carry the potential risk of microbiological contamination due to the usage of untreated irrigation water, inappropriate organic fertilizers, wildlife or other sources that can occur anywhere from the farm to the fork such as failure during harvesting, handling, processing and packaging. Among a wide range of pathogens causing foodborne illnesses, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes are the most common pathogens that contaminate leafy green vegetables. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and immunocompromised people are the most at risk for developing complications from foodborne illness as a result of eating contaminated leafy greens or their RTE salads. These outbreaks are mostly restaurant associated or they sometimes spread across several countries by international trade routes. This review summarizes current observations concerning the contaminated leafy green vegetables and their RTE salads as important vehicles for the transmission of some foodborne pathogens to humans. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.