Onions Prevent Influenza Infection-Unproven!

Onions Prevent Influenza Infection-Unproven!

Summary of eRumor:

This is a forwarded email about onions.   It says that during a 1919 influenza scare farmers would cut onions and place them on plates to  ward off infection.   It also warns about leftover onions and how they can be poisonous to dogs.

The Truth:

There is no medical evidence that onions attracts viruses.  Onions have been mythically thought to ward off diseases since the days of the bubonic plague in the middle ages.   The Vetinfo.com web site does warn that onions are unsafe for dogs and included the tasty vegetable on their list of toxins for dogs.

Left over onions, alone, may not be toxic but can easily pick up contamination from preparation utensils.   FoodHygieneTraining.com, a website in the United Kingdom offering expert food safety tips, suggests using different cutting boards when preparing meals and vegetables, to prevent cross-contamination.    The web site also warns that bacteria, viruses and parasites can grow in a matter of 20 minutes on a cutting board that was used for uncooked meat if not cleaned properly. It is not difficult for onions and other vegetables to pick up  such microorganism that are invisible to the naked eye.  Natural enzymes in vegetables may even inhibit growth.

If stored improperly, onions can eventually go bad.  The National Onion Association posted suggestions on their web site regarding the storage of unprepared onions recommending that be stored in a cool dry place where air can be allowed to circulate.  Depending on the type, onions can be last in storage between 30 to 180 days.  They also said that “Chopped or sliced onions can be stored in a sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 7 days.” 

updated 02/26/10