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Tuesday, November 9th 2021

Do I Have to Disinfect Lettuce in Mexico?

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Introduction

Do I Have to Disinfect Lettuce in Mexico

If you’re new to Mexico, then you may have wondered, Do I have to disinfect lettuce in Mexico? Well, the answer is: usually—with only a few exceptions.

In this article, we’ll cover why you need to disinfect your produce, which foods you need to disinfect, and how to disinfect your lettuce and other vegetables.

Why Do I Need to Disinfect Produce in Mexico?

Do I Have to Disinfect Lettuce in Mexico

Produce in Mexico can be grown in unsanitary conditions. Furthermore, from the time your food is planted and harvested to the time it lands on your grocery store shelf, there are many opportunities for bacterial contamination. (That’s not even bringing into the discussion the sanitary conditions of your average Mexican market...)

Even if you are planning to remove the skin of a fruit or vegetable, in the process of preparing the food, you could transfer bacteria from the skin or rind to the edible parts beneath. Cross-contamination can also occur between disinfected vegetables and other foods that you haven’t washed. So when you’re disinfecting your produce, it’s best to just sanitize everything.

Every day, your food risks coming into contact with:

  • Wastewater run-off
  • Unclean irrigation water
  • Fertilizer (including fresh manure)
  • Both domesticated and wild animal waste
  • Unclean hands of laborers
  • Unsanitary working conditions

When you’re dealing with bacteria, you’ll actually need an antibacterial agent to kill the bacteria. Soaking it in water alone—even if it’s purified drinking water—will not kill any bacteria that may be on your produce.

You may think that if you’re going to cook the vegetables, then you don’t need to disinfect that food. However, you may not cook it long enough, or it may not be cooked hot enough, to kill the particular bacteria on your food.

Any traveler in Mexico has likely had an ugly case of Montezuma’s Revenge that kept them locked in the bathroom for long, unpleasant periods of time. These short gastrointestinal sicknesses with flu-like symptoms, as well as other, more severe illnesses such as giardia, are often caused by contaminated food or drinking water. The best way to ensure your safety is to disinfect your vegetables and other produce in Mexico.

To really protect yourself and your loved ones, you can purchase an expat health insurance or travel insurance policy to make sure that, should the worst happen, you and your family are cared for.

Click here for a free quote:

Do I Have to Disinfect Lettuce in Mexico – What Foods Do I Need to Disinfect in Mexico?

The recommendation is to disinfect all fruits and vegetables in an antibacterial solution. Not only vegetables that you are going to eat raw, but anything that could have come from a questionable source.

Some expat information sources, such as this article, recommend even sanitizing your fish. If you do decide to sanitize your fish, then soak it in a different container than all your vegetables.

– Exception to the Rule

Hydroponic lettuce that comes encased in plastic is allegedly one exception to the rule. You can tell if it’s hydroponic because it’ll still have a clean root system attached to the leafy head of lettuce. One popular hydroponic lettuce company that is found in many grocery stores, Eva, even recommends not disinfecting their lettuce (though they do recommend giving it a rinse with purified water).

Hydroponic produce can be a bit more expensive than other, conventionally-grown veggies. However, the added cost is said to be offset by the convenience of being able to eat the lettuce right away.

How Do I Disinfect Vegetables in Mexico?

Do I Have to Disinfect Lettuce in Mexico

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– Disinfectant Solutions

There are two ways to disinfect your produce in Mexico. The first way is to soak it in a commercial antibacterial solution. These iodine-based solutions are made to disinfect fruits and vegetables, and they’re available in any grocery store and many tienditas (local convenience stores). Two popular brand names are BacDyn or Microdyn and come in dark blue plastic bottles of all sizes.

First it’s recommended that you either soak your produce in water or rinse it thoroughly in a colander. Then you are ready to disinfect your vegetables in Mexico.

The bottle has precise directions depending on which brand you buy, but for the most part, you soak the vegetables in water (tap water is fine, the solution will kill anything in that water as well). Then you add about five drops to the bowl of water.

*Note: If you want to soak more vegetables in the same water, then that is fine to do immediately afterwards; just try and soak vegetables in water that you have not used several times or days before.

– Chlorine Bleach

At Expat Insurance, we recommend using the commercial antibacterial solutions mentioned above. However, in a pinch, you can disinfect in a solution of bleach and water.

Note: If you do soak produce in a solution of bleach and water, then you have to rinse with potable water afterward. Do not leave the bleach solution on your food.

First, do not use color-safe bleaches or scented chlorine bleaches. Then, you have to get the solution right. The University of Nebraska recommends using 1.5 teaspoons of bleach (for a bleach product that is 5.25% sodium hypochlorite, which is the active ingredient in bleach).

Click here for more information on disinfecting your produce with bleach solutions.

Conclusion

Do I Have to Disinfect Lettuce in Mexico

If you live in Mexico or in another developing nation, you should always disinfect your fruits and vegetables. No one likes getting sick. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At Expat Insurance, we firmly believe this.

If you don’t have some form of traveler’s or expat health insurance, please consider protecting yourself and your loved ones today.

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