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Jeruba's avatar

How do they clean the bug poop off of herbs that are being dried and packaged for commercial sale?

Asked by Jeruba (41889 points ) October 2nd, 2011

They do, don’t they?

Topics: insects, frass, bugs, poop, herbs, produce, food, farming

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

11 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

Is there a lot of bug poop on those herbs?

chyna's avatar

<evil grin> They don’t.

snowberry's avatar

Sometimes when you work in a restaurant, you get in a case of lettuce that has a lot of bugs in it, such as aphids on lettuce for example. When that happened to me, I put them to soak in salty water and they floated to the top. I also washed a bunch of them down the drain, but some of them still ended up in salads, I’m sure.

I imagine that’s the same situation for herb people, but I don’t know for sure. Certain bugs, such as a cockroach in the produce would likely make it to the reject list.

creative1's avatar

I am sure they wash it before they dry the herbs…. I am sure as @snowberry says some do make it through but I am sure the extra protein isn’t going to kill you and their not going to charge you extra for it (lol)

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

They don’t. As a matter of fact, did you know that most of the food we buy at grocery stores have remnants of dead insects and their waste products? Examples include tomato sauce, and most canned goods. It’s just too costly and time consuming to remove all the minute bug stuff and carcasses from plant material. I know, yeech.

JLeslie's avatar

They rinse them I would assume. Some are irradiated, if you are worrying about bacteria, but I think in the US not many are. Certain fruits are more likely to be irradiated from certain countries. Some meats also. By the way the process can reduce the nutrition of the product.

Jeruba's avatar

The question is, how?

Do they put the herbs to soak in huge vats? Do they hose them down with water? with some other liquid? Do they scrub each leaf by hand, one by one? Do they dry them by a process that causes other substances to fall off? Do they separate herbs from nonherbs during the grinding and pulverizing and stem-removal process?

Do they manage to grow them in a completely bug-free environment?

I’ve just brought in some bay leaves from a bay laurel tree. The backs of the leaves were covered with dots of insect eggs or poop or whatever bugs like to keep in their little encampments. The stuff did not come off easily. I had to wash each leaf pretty vigorously with a sponge. A rinse would not have done it.

I’ve bought bay leaves in a jar before, and now I’m wondering what sorts of bonuses came with them.

So I’m asking not Do they but How do they?—assuming that they do something.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I’m going to guess that they don’t… washing fresh herbs would remove some of the oils, which is where the flavour is. I don’t wash the herbs I grow in my kitchen…

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Jeruba, I find it very endearing that you know the word for bug poop. Now I will spend days trying to find an opportunity to use it in a conversation.
That said, I do resent a bit that you brought this to my attention. Ew.

JLeslie's avatar

I tried to google this ten different ways, and could not come up with an answer. I’m sure you tried to search as well. There are recommendations for the average person to wash and dry herbs, but hard to find what farmers or commercial growers do before distrobution to markets. I do vaguely remember Fresh Express, a Chiquita brand, rinsing their components that go into their pre-packaged salads, and then it being spun in large drums to get the water off. Also, my SIL once made a comment to me regarding having a maid when she lived in the Dominican Republic. She said just preparing vegetables is a huge chore, Americans don’t realize everything is washed before it comes to market. So, I would think there is some effort to rinse the herbs here. I realize I have not really answered your question. Probably the best thing would be to actually call wherever the herbs are coming from and ask directly what they do. It probably varies. Or, search the USDA website, or call them for their minimum requirements.

snowberry's avatar

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Regarding spices, There are three ways to kill insects or bacteria: irradiation, steam heating or fumigation with ethylene oxide which is a pesticide. As far as getting rid of the insects in the first place, I don’t know.

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