It’s a scary time to eat a salad, given the news of a vast E. coli outbreak in the U.S. spread by contaminated romaine lettuce. If the outbreak has you worrying about your produce-washing habits, you’re not alone. But washing your produce won’t protect you from E. coli.
A recent study in Food Science & Nutrition found that rinsing or submerging leafy vegetables in water doesn’t meaningfully reduce their burden of E. coli bacteria. Another study, this one from the University of Georgia, found specially designed produce washes were even less effective than a water rinse at clearing away E. coli. (In fact, the FDA recommends skipping those produce washes altogether.)