Disinfecting Lettuce

Today I bought some lettuce at the farmers market for the first time. My husband wants me to "disinfect" it because he says we can get "amoebas." What in the world is he talking about? I've never heard of disinfecting lettuce before. If I am supposed to disinfect it, how do I do that?

Allison from Kingsport TN

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I grow lettuce and greens.I always soak them in slightly warm water with salt.I've been told the salt brings out the bugs.Then rinse throughly.

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There could be insects, but there sure aren't any "amoebas". Those live in bodies of water.

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There was story on the local news recently about a young girl who almost died from e.coli poisoning from lettuce. The incident had taken place some years earlier but the affect was shocking. She required several surgeries to include brain surgery due to seizures. She also developed kidney problems and diabeties.

It was shocking and horrible to watch. I could only image what how the mother felt. She thought she was feeding her family a healthy meal. The lettuce was the pre-cut bagged type that claims to have been thoroughly prewashed. Right there on the bag it says additional washing is unnecessary.

The mother in the news clip now uses fruit and vegetable sterizilers. I found several commercial brands online but they were all expensive. The site below offers some homemade cleaning solutions. The most important advice is to wash everything.


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Your local grocery along with "organic" groceries and health food stores would carry something called "Veggie Wash" or similar. It is used to clean off pesticides and other residues on fruits and vegs.

It is NOT going to disinfect it, but I suppose you could wash it in iodine if that's what he wants. Does he think the local farmer's fields and workers are dirtier than those that sell to the regular grocery?

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You can disenfect veggies this way:

Natural Veggie Wash

When washing fruits and veggies, white vinegar comes in handy. Fill a bowl with cold water and a few tablespoons of vinegar. Put the fruit in to soak a few minutes and wipe dry. I was amazed how much junk came off on the towel I used compared to the soap and water method, which I used to use. And there is no vinegar taste left on the fruit.

Linda from PA

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just before using the lettuce, rinse with a vinegar and water solution and spin or pat dry with paper towels.

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I use cold water and salt rinse and rinse again.

I saw the TV news program and it was SCARY about

PREPACKAGED ready saladas alot of people get very ill eating those. YOu can get that germ that comes in

raw or undercooked hamburger but cannot be cooked out in a salad...go to ER if you get sick after

alad (salmoneala ??) I will now try the white

vinegar (use this for lots of things) to rinse my lettuce.

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Your husband better not ever eat salad in a restaurant, as I saw one place (and I'm sure they all do) just dump spinach from the box into the bowl...eewww! I'm sure they all use salad in a bag as it is so very convenient. I wash and spin that before serving. I am picky with my food, so most of it gets rinsed with either water or vinegar wash. I think vinegar is a natural 'disinfectant' and is safest to use.

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Everyone should wash ALL fresh produce throughly! It's sad to say.........but there are workers who handle that food very carelessly. I believe some of them don't KNOW that things they do, or don't do, can seriously affect the health of the people who ultimately eat it............then there are those who really don't CARE!

One thing I've noticed is that most people do not wash and rinse melons before cutting through them. Anything on the rind of a melon is transferred to the inside of the melon when you run the knife blade through it! Field workers harvesting produce often urinate (and worse) right where they are in the field! If they splatter on some produce and it gets missed in the rinse process (if there even IS a rinse process!) you have the potential for some serious illness! I'm not saying all workers are like this! It only takes one!

I personally spent many days in Intensive Care and several more in a regular hospital room thanks to some careless action by someone. What took me down was something "very similar" to e-coli. I was a tough, healthy old gal but this "thing" tried to kill me and seriously slowed me down! I hate to think what it would have done to a child or frail adult! It was the most frightening, painful thing I've ever had to endure!

Please, wash everthing before you eat it! You REALLY don't know where it has been or what has touched it!

Another reminder, any canned goods that you plan to eat without boiling first (for example fruit, tuna, etc.).....wash the top of the can before opening it with a can opener........and clean the blade of that can opener! Have you seen the nasty gunk on that blade?

I'll get off my soapbox now.....if someone would just hand me a ladder.........!

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Any food grown where water could contain human waste is at risk for e.Coli, Hepatitis A, Salmonella and SHigella as well as other parasites and bacterial contamination. These are dangerous for a healthy individual but can be devistating and even fatal for a child or immunocomprimised individual.

Also, any party handling foods risk containating with human fecal materials when hand washing is not regularly or properly done.

Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under running water

Vinegar willnot kill the Hepatitis virus or an intestinal parasite or bacteria

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When I got my book with my juicer, it said to run a sinkful of warm water. Pour into the water, lemon juice & salt to wash your fruits & veggies with. You'll be surprised at how much dirt and gunk you get off your products with using this.

I'd talked to a lady that owned a health food store, once. I asked what she used to wash her produce with, she mentioned about the "veggie wash", but said she just used liquid dish soap on her produce. Just to be sure to rinse very well. Or to buy organic.

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I wash my fruits and big veggies (carrots/potatoes) with Basic H by Shaklee, it is organic and lifts the dirt right off! It doesn't disinfect, but it gets under the wax, dirt and chemical residue without ammonia or chlorates found in other dish soaps. You could try the Basic G, but I wouldn't suggest ingesting, because it has disinfecting properties like bleach! Just rinse rinse rinse! You only need a few drops in a quart of water! www.shaklee.net/healthy_home101

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Amoebas do not only live in bodies of water - they are definitely in the soil.

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I was told by a culinary professional to soak in salted warm water for 20 mins. - or not. The time is in question.

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The main problem with bacteria and lettuce is that no matter how well you wash it, the bacteria can actually be within the cells of the lettuce itself. That occurs while the plant is growing in an infected field. But -- wash it anyway because that gets off the surface stuff that isn't good for you. And wash it well.

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This copied from Truth or Fiction. I have been doing this for quite some time. I also like the use of salt in warm water. We used to soak fish in salt water and the worms and things came out into the water.

6. Use as a vegetable wash or soak to kill bacteria and neutralize


We don't know about the chemicals, but there are several credible references about the use of hydrogen peroxide on fruits or vegetables. Research published by the Journal of Food and Science in 2003 showed effective results of using hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate apples and melons that were infected with strains of E.coli.

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I'm a biology/chemistry major & I'll never forget the one lecture when this was mentioned, because my mother too is obsessive about washing lettuce. Your husband/boyfriend is correct in that the amoebas are what you're defending yourself against (cause ghastly GI problems). The solution: when you wash your lettuce, use salt, regular 'ole NaCl and plenty of it, and this kills the little creatures much like it is lethal to snails. Probably too much info, but could share more. So it's not how well you've washed because you could wash all day long with water alone, and if amoeba are present, because they're 99% water, they would be perfectly happy in their aquatic environment. Good luck and healthy heating.

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Here is a recipe for home-made produce wash:


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Back in the day when I was selling Nutrimetics, they made a product called Nutri Clean OLC. It's an all purpose household cleanser but a lady I know used it to wash her fruits and veggies. Just make sure you rinse everything thoroughly before eating.

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Washing Lettuce
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