Are Your Pre-Washed Vegetables Safe To Eat Straight From The Bag?

Alain Saint-Dic
Alain Saint-Dic, Health and Fitness Editor at 20something, brings over nine years of experience in the health and fitness industry. Though he studied pre-law, his love for the human body, it's adaptive ability and unlocking the largely untapped potential of human beings led him to pursue a passionate career in health, fitness, and athletics.

This is not a particularly favorite habit of mine, mainly because I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables, but on occasion, I’ll take a prepackaged salad straight from the bag, onto the plate and into my stomach. The bag usually says pre-washed, so no harm done, right? I’m supposed to be able to trust the agricultural world with my health and eat my bagged veggies thinking they are washed, cleaned and ready to use. Well unfortunately, I don’t trust many labels since we can barely get eggs, chicken and milk right, so today is the day that we answer a question that has plagued 20something germaphobes for ages. Are my bagged veggies safe to eat straight from the bag?


What does that “pre-washed” label actually mean?

In its most literal terms, “pre-washed” means that vegetables was washed (maybe even thrice) before it was placed into the lovely bag that you purchase for salad convenience. Points for being Captain Obvious! The most common washing fluid used by packaging companies is water, with a small amount of chlorine mixed in. It’s not harmful to humans in tiny tiny amounts — I’m sure we’ve all swallowed trace amounts of chlorine in swimming pools and are still alive to read this article.

Triple wash action means I’m good right?

Yes and no. Generally speaking, the treated water is effective at killing the bacteria that it comes in contact with. However, it doesn’t come in contact with all bacteria. According to this study done on bagged spinach, the structure of spinach leaves actually protects bacteria. Isn’t that something? A miracle vegetable meant to give starry eyed sailors super strength, is also meant to deliver secret agents of death into our bodies. I jest, besides the spinach e.coli outbreak of 2006, spinach has done us more good than harm. However, the bacteria in spinach leaves and other bagged veggie leaves can grow and survive in sub layers of the leaves’ structure, and in the tears of the leaves. As they move through the packaging facility, these leaves can come in contact with and contaminate other leaves that may have been washed already. So pre-washing is effective, but not 100 percent effective.


Simple alternatives 20somethings will also enjoy:

  • Don’t eat directly from the bag, rewash your veggies.
  • Skip the salad dressing, use vodka; A shot a day keeps the bacteria at bay.
  • Don’t eat veggies, too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
  • Buy fresh veggies without the bag, save the environment, and control the cleanliness.
  • Eat cooked veggies…except lettuce. I don’t know what that tastes like.

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