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Are broccoli worms harmful to human health?

pinkskittles Jul 9, 2008 07:51 AM

i realize the title of this post is a little less appealing than most posts, but i thought i'd ask the community to help me out here.

i got some broccoli at the organic farmers market and found a little green worm. through the help of google i found that they are called cabbage loopers, but i couldn't find out if they were bad for my health or not in case i accidentally consumed one.

i mean, are their eggs bad, like parasites and stuff? could they cause digestive and health problems like other parasites i've read about that affect humans?

i was so icked out i just threw out the rest of the broccoli (which i'm sure i shouldn't have done).

can anyone tell me if it's ok to accidentally eat a green worm?


  1. PaulaT Jul 9, 2008 08:17 AM

    Simply - not harmful and the little suckers hold on tight so you can get really good, fresh broccoli at a restaurant and find the things even though the broccoli has been washed really well. And its okay if you eat one of them, it isn't going to produce the little white butterfly in you stomach.

    1. ipsedixit Jul 9, 2008 09:35 AM

      You'll be fine if you eat one of these accidentally.

      In fact, if you've ever eaten any type of processed canned food, you've already eaten much worse.


      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit
        hill food Jul 10, 2008 12:19 AM

        ipsedixit: a practicing Jainist would recoil in horror at your lackadaisical and remiss demeanor.

        OP: ipsedixit and Sam F are both right. and all the tips of the others (plus raw broccoli gives some people gas - although good vitamins)

        remember the boy scout rule when lost in the wilderness and thirsty - one pool of water has algae and the other is crystal clear - which one will kill you?

        if things can grow and thrive, so will you.

        the real worry is: are they well cooked enough that they don't crawl when company is over. THAT would be awkward.

      2. Sam Fujisaka Jul 9, 2008 12:12 PM

        They are harmless to eat, add some vitamins, and are a sign that the broccoli wasn't hit with excess pesticides.

        1. s
          smartie Jul 9, 2008 03:12 PM

          ultra religious Jews wash their fruits and vegetables extremely carefully and excessively to ensure no bugs etc. Broccoli in particular should be parboiled for a minute after careful washing. Some fruits and vegetables are banned (such as raspberries, asparagus) because they 'cannot' be assured of being bug free.

          1. raytamsgv Jul 9, 2008 04:06 PM

            I'm not sure I'd eat it raw, so you might want to cook it first. :-)

            1. m
              morwen Jul 9, 2008 09:33 PM

              I just read in a Culinary Institute textbook that if you soak fresh veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, etc. in cold salt water for a little while the little critters will let go and rinse out easier.

              1 Reply
              1. re: morwen
                LisaN Jul 9, 2008 10:14 PM

                We did this all the time when my grandfather grew broccoli. Worked like a charm.

              2. j
                Jeri L Jul 9, 2008 10:32 PM

                I must say they're pretty durable critters. I found one still wiggling (if slowly) on CSA broccoli that had been in the fridge a week! I dropped him in the compost pail with the rest of the trimmings. Cabbage looper heaven on earth!

                1. g
                  gourmanda Jul 10, 2008 02:03 PM

                  My CSA says, due to the wet weather, soak broccoli in salt water for a few minutes to remove any cabbage worms. Then wash the broccoli and prepare as desired.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gourmanda
                    Potomac Bob Jul 10, 2008 08:03 PM

                    If the worms will eat the broccoli, then I won't have to.

                  2. tatamagouche Jul 11, 2008 06:04 AM

                    Although it's hard for me to be icked out by something with a name as cute as "cabbage looper."

                    1. Kajikit Jul 11, 2008 07:29 PM

                      They're not worms - they're little green caterpillars. They represent no possible danger to human beings whatsoever, even if you accidentally ate one. They're not going to lay eggs until they turn into butterflies and fly away. They're totally harmless, and they're a sign that your produce is chemical-free, because spray would have killed them. Worm are gross, caterpillars are cute. :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Kajikit
                        pinkskittles Jul 14, 2008 06:26 PM

                        Caterpillars and not worms... THIS is the kind of reassurance I needed to hear! Thanks!!! :D

                      2. w
                        woodwork27 Jul 12, 2010 01:47 PM

                        Not only are they harmless, They are absolutley delectable.I harvested a bunch of them this morning and steamed them with a small broccoli floret. With the broccoli you cant even tell that your eating them. Alone they are like eating little broccoli flavored shrimp. When steemed they firm right up and have a nice snap to them.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: woodwork27
                          jumpingmonk Jul 12, 2010 04:44 PM

                          Hmm, now I'm wondering if Parsley Worms are tasty partiucaurly ones that have been eating dill or anise.

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