Cut onions don’t keep: True/False?

I was having a good day until I started reading that email. You should never keep an onion once it’s cut, it said; onions are magnets for bacteria and keeping one even a few hours can lead to dire gastrointestinal consequences. As my mind totted up all the leftover onions I’ve consumed I felt for my pulse. Didn’t it feel thready? Was that a fever coming on? What about that half an onion in the fridge right now — would I need a biohazard suit to dispose of it?

Luckily reason took hold before things got out of hand, and a little digging revealed that the whole thing was a sham. Cherie R., Craig Bonner, and anyone else who received the warning, can relax.

My first clue was the email itself — true it wasn’t trying to sell me little blue pills or a diploma, but it was rather breathless, with strange Capitalisation and even descending occasionally to BLOCK CAPITALS. The version I have starts out reasonably enough, talking about a tour of a real US food company, but things go downhill when Ed the food chemist makes his appearance. Ed’s character isn’t fleshed out too much, but I imagine him as one of those maverick scientists frequently found in fiction — you know, trying to get the truth out in spite of the Man while trying to keep his fragile personal life on track.

Ed’s message was clear: raw onions don’t keep once cut, and if you eat them you’ll be eating loads of Toxic bacteria and risking Adverse Stomach infections.

Something didn’t ring true about Ed’s claims and sure enough, when I searched the relevant scientific work I found that not only are onions not a haven for bacteria but they have been studied with some success for their antibacterial properties.

So cut onions are safe. It’s hardly news that there are mistakes on the internet, but it can be hard to tell the truth from the nonsense. This time, though, it was a straightforward matter to peel away the layers of rumour and expose the emptiness within.

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