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Feb 11, 2013 04:45 PM

Will a vinegar wash kill Listeria on salad greens?

I have vinegar (yes, straight vinegar) in a spray bottle that I've been spraying over veggies before I prep them.

Would spraying vinegar on boxed salad greens remove any Listeria that remains?

I just read the Huffington Post article on

which led me to the
The Biggest Food Safety Disasters Of 2012 slideshow article underneath it.

Listeria seemed to be the most common.

re: the article
I felt terrible for that person vacationing in FL who caught vibriosis from a bad oyster. That sounds like one of the worst ways to die ever.

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  1. Here is a link to an FDA page for consumers on Listeria:

    1. This article may be helpful, too, if you're worried about listeria.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pinehurst

        I'm not buying Stanley's advice that further dilution of 5% vinegar will be sufficient. It is not consistent with the item I linked from the NIH.

      2. Here's a link to a report on the effect of acid on Listeria:

        Acid is much more effective in killing Listeria when combined with ethanol. Distilled white vinegar at 5% is about pH 3, so a gallon of vinegar and a fifth of 100 proof vodka might work. There is no information on what brand of vodka the Listeria prefer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          How 'bout skipping the contaminated greens and just drink the vodka?

        2. if the water the greens were grown in was contaminated then no.

          1 Reply
          1. re: C. Hamster

            I have found no authoritative source which states that Listeria is taken into a plant with water. Can you document this?

          2. My guess is that vinegar would work only if you completely immerse the salad greens in vinegar. A spray might not get into all the nooks and crannies, and it's not always evenly dispersed.

            It would probably take more than a few minutes for the vinegar to kill the bacteria, so you might need to immerse it for a while for it to have any effect. If you look at the instructions for disinfecting with bleach, they typically require the bleach solution to stand for at least 10 minutes on the surface to be disinfected.