Can you get sick from eating old lettuce?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Can you get sick from eating old lettuce” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of eating expired lettuce. Moreover, we are going to discuss tips to properly store lettuce.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Can you get sick from eating old lettuce?

When it comes to lettuce, eating old or bacteria-laden lettuce can sometimes cause gastrointestinal problems including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea as spoiled lettuce can carry harmful bacteria like E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.

When it comes to fresh vegetables, you should do a sensory evaluation to reach a final verdict on whether or not they are still suitable to consume.

There are a couple of indications that point out that your lettuce has gone bad. You should consider the appearance, texture, and smell of lettuce to give a final verdict about whether or not lettuce has gone bad.

Appearance

The discoloration in the lettuce (brown color) is an indication that your lettuce is past its prime age.

Texture 

If you notice that the lettuce in your salad has softened or has a slimy texture, then it is the indication that it has gone bad. Moreover, in the case of lettuce salad with dressing, if it becomes soggy, then it indicates a bad lettuce salad.

Smell

If you notice some off-smell (rotten or sour smell) or something that does not quite smell like the fresh lettuce itself then it means that your lettuce has gone bad and you should discard it.

So you should consider the indicators mentioned above before eating lettuce. It is worth mentioning that when in doubt it is better to get rid of the lettuce as it is better to be safe than sorry.

Fresh lettuce leaves last for about 7-10 days in the fridge if it is properly stored at or below 40°F while the lettuce head lasts even longer than this (1-3 weeks if stored intact and unwashed). 

The commercially packaged, prewashed lettuce salad mix lasts for about 3-5 days in the fridge when stored properly at or below 40°F. 

It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of lettuce and within this time you can enjoy the best quality of the lettuce.

Other FAQs about Lettuce which you may be interested in.

Can out-of-date lettuce make you sick?

What happens if you eat expired lettuce?

Tips to properly store lettuce

  1. You should store your lettuce in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  1. In the case of the lettuce head, you should wash it carefully and after drying it with the help of a paper towel, wrap the whole lettuce head in damp paper towels and plastic wrap. You can even store the lettuce head wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic zipper bag.
  1. In the case of the fresh lettuce leaves, it is recommended to wash them first and dry them with the help of a paper towel or you can even dry them in the salad spinner. Afterward, take a bowl, put all the lettuce leaves in it, now take a damp cloth or paper towel and place it on the lettuce leaves. Lastly, wrap the bowl with the help of cling film or plastic wrap. With the help of a needle or pinhole make some holes in the plastic wrap as the lettuce needs a bit of airflow to remain fresh.
  1. You should never store your lettuce near fruits like bananas, apples, etc as these fruits emit ethylene that speeds up the ripening process and it can result in yellowing of the lettuce leaves, moreover it also results in making lettuce very soft and mushy and thereby can reduce its shelf life.
  1. In case you want to store the lettuce salad, it should be stored without putting dressing on it.
  1. Never leave your lettuce on the kitchen counter for more than 2 hours or else the bacteria and other microbes will contaminate it. Moreover, the lettuce can become soggy and can limp when it is kept at room temperature for more than an hour or two.
  1. You should never store lettuce in the freezer. The thawed lettuce will not have the same flavor and texture as that of the fresh lettuce. It will lose its crispness and will have softened up. 

You can read the nutritional value and health benefits of lettuce here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Can you get sick from eating old lettuce” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of eating old lettuce. Moreover, we are going to discuss tips to properly store lettuce.

Citations

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-cause-food-poisoning#:~:text=Do%20not%20purchase%20bags%20of,to%20sit%20at%20room%20temperature.&text=Vegetables%20and%20leafy%20greens%20can%20often%20carry%20harmful%20bacteria%20such,coli%2C%20Salmonella%20and%20Listeria.
https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17553
https://www.livestrong.com/article/548773-is-old-lettuce-unhealthy/
https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/leafy-greens.html

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.