Raw vegetables are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, so don't be afraid to include salads or carrot sticks in your meal plan every day. That said, all foods are prone to contamination, and veggies are no exception. By practicing proper food safety techniques, you can help reduce your risks without sacrificing good nutrition.
Precautions for Produce
The main concern with raw vegetables is possible bacterial contamination, which can lead to food poisoning. Cooking foods at high temperatures kills bacteria; skip the cooking, and you don't get the same protection. The Food and Drug Administration recommends reducing your risk of bacterial infection by choosing unbruised vegetables, keeping them separate from meat, poultry and seafood, washing them well and storing refrigerated items at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
The Sprouts Story
Sprouts, such as bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts, pose a greater risk of poisoning from E. coli or other bacteria due to the hot, humid growing conditions. Therefore, the FDA recommends that pregnant women, the elderly or anyone with a weakened immune system avoid raw sprouts as well as those that have only been lightly cooked.