Why You Should Think Twice Before Buying Pre-Washed Lettuce

When it comes to eating a well-rounded meal amid a busy schedule, we get it, you want to skip steps where you can. You might grab pre-made sandwiches, pre-cut fruits and veggies, and even pre-washed lettuce. Again, we aren't judging. We've all been there.

That being said, a lot of problems come along with these pre-made, pre-cut, pre-washed foods found in your grocery store's produce department. Not only are you going to pay more, but these products might also come with a significantly shorter shelf life. According to Consumer Reports, slicing and dicing produce causes the product to be exponentially more susceptible to contamination from bacteria.

You'll want to stay away from pre-washed lettuce for similar reasons, but the biggest reason might take you by surprise. Sure, pre-washed anything sounds pretty good, we can't deny that. However, after you know what's lurking among those supposedly clean leaves, you'd probably rather wash your lettuce yourself.

Seriously, pre-washed lettuce isn't worth the risk

Although you would think pre-washed lettuce sounds great, it's far from it. For starters, you don't know when that lettuce was washed. It could've been yesterday, or it could've been a week ago. You don't know how many other customers have touched that lettuce, or how many employees, or how many others even before the lettuce reached the store. The point is you simply don't know, and that alone should make you want to wash your produce.

As one nutritionist explained to Well and Good, "The less hands on your greens, the better." In other words, it's far safer to buy lettuce that hasn't been handled as much (or even washed). Just wash it yourself. Yes, it's annoying, we get it, but it's so much safer.

Pre-washed lettuce –- and other pre-washed greens -– are constantly being recalled due to contamination by E. coli and listeria. For instance, Dole's massive listeria outbreak at the end of 2021 caused more than a dozen cases of illness, and unfortunately, two deaths. At the end of the day, it's better to err on the side of caution and wash your lettuce yourself.