Here’s why you should always wash your herbs. Produce causes almost half of all foodborne illnesses in the U.S. — more than raw meat and dairy products. Even herbs aren’t safe; with over 2,699 people getting sick after eating them from 1996-2015 — 84 of whom were hospitalized.
The FDA recently looked at 139 samples of parsley, cilantro and basil. Four of the samples tested positive for salmonella and three had the toxin that produces E. coli. Cooking food is the best way to reduce bacteria, but if you still want to eat your herbs raw, some say white vinegar and water kills bad stuff on food the best.
The FDA also tested 107 processed avocado and guacamole samples and four contained Listeria. Avocado products have a high moisture content and low acidity, which makes it easier for bacteria to grow.
The FDA plans to test a total of 1,600 herb samples in the future. The report doesn’t mention how much bacteria was present or how harmful it was but you should probably keep washing your herbs just to be safe. Herbs and greens may be synonymous with health and cleanliness, but they are just as susceptible to bacteria.