FIT WebQoof: Can Cut Onions Left Overnight Lead to Food Poisoning?

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Claim

FIT recently came across a forward on social media about toxic onions. The message claimed that once cut, an onion can become toxic if it is not cooked immediately and left instead in the fridge for the next day. This would lead to food poisoning, the message warned.

This claim existed as early as 2016, finding its way on quora too.

True or False?

FIT spoke to nutritionist Kavita Devgan to get to the bottom of this.

"“Yes onions should be cut fresh and cooked right away. However, they don’t turn toxic as their acidic pH inhibits microbes and bacterial growth.”" - Kavita Devgan

She did warn that cut onions left outside the refrigerator may have lost their freshness and should ideally not be consumed the next day.

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This claim has been swirling around the internet for quite a while and has got quite a lot of traction online, with the US’s National Onion Association even publishing a statement to quell the rumours. “When cut, onions release compounds that do not promote pathogen growth,” in other words saying cut onions do not invite diseases formations.

“When handled properly, cut onions can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 7 days,” it read.

It’s Always Safer to Use Fresh Ingredients

In fact, the statement pointed out that onions do quite the opposite as claimed - they can inhibit the growth of some disease causing microorganisms. “The Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia states, juice released from cut onion is known to kill or inhibit the growth of several types of microorganisms, including some of those capable of causing food poisoning in humans.”

Even myth-busting site Snopes busted this myth in 2009, saying cut onion left for the next day does not get contaminated and does not cause food poisoning.

Therefore, this viral message is just a rumour although it is recommended to wash ingredients thoroughly each time you use them and cut them with a fresh knife.

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"“It is a safe and hygienic practice to use freshly cut vegetables- and the same applies to onions too.”" - Kavita Devgan

Devgan adds, “Ideally even leftover salad should not be stored but eaten immediately.” It’s advisable to always use fresh ingredients while cooking.

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