Can Raw, Cut Onions Give You A Food Poisoning? What Food Safety Specialists Have To Say

Date July 10, 2018

Truth or myth: are raw, cut onions dangerous to your health?

Having pre-cut onions at hand to use in salads or sandwiches is very convenient; many people cut raw onions and store them for later use. But there have been claims circulating on the Internet for about a decade that raw, cut onions are dangerous. Here’s an example:

Onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.

And another one:

Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to cook it the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

The wording varies, but the underlying sentiment is basically the same: you shouldn’t leave cut onions to use later, as they attract germs and can give you a food poisoning. But is there any truth to this claim?

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How this controversial claim came into being

As with many other things on the Internet, it’s not exactly clear where this claim about the dangers of raw onions originated. It probably started with a blog post back in 2008, which has since been deleted.

The basis for this claim may have to do with the widespread use of onions during devastating epidemics of the past centuries. People used to cut onions and place them around the house, believing the vegetable could absorb disease-causing toxins and bacteria.

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What food safety specialists have to say

Here’s the truth: there’s nothing about onions that makes them particularly attractive for bacteria. Actually, it’s quite the opposite: raw onions have mild antibacterial properties.

Food specialists who have been asked to elaborate on the topic agree that cut onions aren’t any more dangerous than other vegetables.

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Jeff Nelkin, a food safety specialist, told Cooking Light:

There is nothing unique about the poor little onion. The only introduction of poison and bacteria would be strictly environmental [e.g. from contaminated soil or unhygienic food prep.]

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What you have to take into account when handling onions (or any other ingredients, for that matter) is general food safety guidelines. Wash your hands before cutting onions, and use a clean knife and cutting board to cut them, and you'll leave bacteria no chances. Put cut onions in a clean, airtight container and store them in the fridge. If you use clean tools to cut and store onions (and any other produce), they are completely safe. If handled properly, cut onions can be stored in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Source: Cooking Light, ThoughtCo., LiveStrong

READ ALSO: 5 Mistakes That May Lead To Food Poisoning

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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