Why You Should Always Wash Lettuce, Even if It Says It's Pre-Washed

Playing How to Make Sure Lettuce You’re Eating Is Safe From Bacteria

As federal health officials give the green light on some romaine lettuce following an E. coli outbreak, experts are weighing in on all the things you can do to avoid getting sick while eating your greens.

Food safety expert Peter DeLucia told Inside Edition the first step to staying healthy is to check the label. 

"If you're not sure where it comes from, the best thing to do is throw it out," said DeLucia. In the case of the most recent outbreak of E. coli, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged people to avoid romaine lettuce from the central coastal region of California. 

Next, said DeLucia, always wash lettuce using a colander. Avoid washing straight in the sink as bacteria can breed along the edges.

By using a colander, "none of the lettuce is touching your sink ... and all of the bad stuff is hopefully going down the drain," he said.

In addition, make sure to pull off and toss the outer leaves, which are more likely to contain harmful bacteria. DeLucia also recommends chopping the end off a bunch of lettuce "because that's right in the dirt." 

Finally, make sure to properly wash all lettuce under cold water – even if the label says it's pre-washed. Pre-washed lettuce has been handled by many different people before being placed in the bag and can contain harmful bacteria as well.

"Your hands are probably the biggest spreader of viruses and bacteria," said DeLucia.

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