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Washing the Leafy Greens

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Why washing your lettuce and other greens is as important as washing your hands.

Food Safety illustration talks about Washing the leafy greens

Did you know that Oct.15 was world hand washing day? It was a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the benefits of washing our hands regularly and properly every day. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of airborne illnesses, such as the flu, the common cold, and COVID-19. By keeping our hands clean, we can protect ourselves and others from germs that can cause serious infections. So, moving forward let’s be sure to make a habit of washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, and after coughing or sneezing. Hand washing is not only good for our health, but also for our happiness!

Today, I want to talk about why washing your lettuce and other leafy greens is so important. You might think that just a quick rinse under the tap is enough, but you'd be surprised by how much dirt, bacteria and pesticides can lurk on those leaves. That's why I always wash my greens thoroughly before eating them or adding them to salads, sandwiches, or smoothies.

Here are some reasons why you should do the same:

  • Washing your greens removes dirt and grit that can make your food taste bad or damage your teeth. Nobody likes to bite into a crunchy salad and find out it's not the croutons but the sand that's making the noise.

  • Washing your greens reduces the risk of food poisoning from harmful germs that may have been on them. Some of these germs include those pathogens that make us very sick. They can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and even death in some cases. They can come from contaminated soil, water or animal feces that may have touched the greens during irrigation, harvesting or transportation.

  • Washing your greens removes pesticides and other chemicals that may have been sprayed on them to prevent pests and diseases. Some of these chemicals can be harmful to your health if ingested in large amounts or over time. They can affect your nervous system, hormones, immune system and even cause cancer.

So how do you wash your greens properly? Here are some steps you can follow:

  • First, of course, wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and water before and after preparing leafy greens.

  • Remove any bruised, torn, or discolored leaves. Make sure to get rid of the outer leaves on lettuce and cabbage heads.

  • Just use plain running water to wash your leafy greens. Rub the leaves gently, repeating the process as often as needed to remove any stubborn dirt or bugs. Do not submerge your greens in the water. Submerging your greens in a bowl or sink full of water will allow the contaminated leaves to spread to others leaves, contaminating the whole bunch. Make sure not to use bleach, detergents, lemon juice, soap, or vinegar. There are no studies that the CDC is aware of that backs that lemon juice or vinegar are any better than just running water. Detergents are no better than running water. They may even leave behind remnants of chemicals on your food.

  • Dry your greens with a salad spinner, paper towel or a clean kitchen towel. This prevents them from wilting or getting soggy.

  • Store your greens in a sealed container or a plastic bag with some paper towels in the fridge. This keeps them fresh and crisp for longer. Make sure your refrigerator is 40°F or colder.

And that's it! You're ready to enjoy your clean and healthy greens in any way you like. I hope you found this post helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below by scrolling down past recent post to the comment section. And don't forget to subscribe to the D.L. Newslow & Associates, Inc. blog for more awesome content like this. Thanks for reading and happy eating!


D.L. Newslow & Associates, Inc. would like to remind of you of our classes upcoming in January.

Don't forget if you book our Food Safety HACCP Plan Development - Jan 22 - 23, 2024 and Advanced HACCP - Jan 24, 2024, workshops together for one participant you can call us at 407-290-2754 for a Coupon Code to save you money.

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M. DuBose
M. DuBose
Oct 27, 2023

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