Are Raw Microgreens Safe To Eat? Microgreens Food Safety

by Lettuce Be | Last Updated: 11/22/2021

Microgreens have evolved to be more nutritious and delicious, to such an extent that they have been called functional foods. We have researched the benefits of microgreens such as a role in preventing cancer. The short shelf life of most microgreens and the need for refrigeration during transport explain why they are typically consumed locally or regionally.

A lot of people are now eating microgreens raw. With that said, because sprouts are microgreens, is eating microgreens raw safe? If so, why? How about harmful bacteria and fungi?

Is it safe to eat raw microgreens? Most of the time, yes. Most sprouts are not usually eaten raw because they often grow under damp and humid conditions that promote the growth of dangerous pathogens. Sprouts grew in an extremely abrasive environment while microgreens grew in a cleaner environment. Learn more about the comparison of microgreens and sprouts.

Despite this, microgreens contain germs that could make you sick if eaten raw. Though slim in probability, you should still rinse them lightly before consuming them raw.

Raw Sprouts and Food Poisoning

safety of microgreens foodAlthough our bodies are designed to deal with intruders, our immune systems have their limits as well. Approximately one in six people over the age of sixty, or those with a compromised immune system, will get sick by consuming raw sprouts. A salmonella outbreak occurred earlier this year after seven customers ate raw alfalfa sprouts in one particular restaurant.

What Makes Microgreens Safer?

The root portion of microgreens is not eaten directly, which leads to mold problems. A good portion of nutrients is prepared into the potting soil for homegrown microgreens, which causes the mold problem. To minimize the risk of infection, we recommend not eating the root part.

What About The Other Half?

Cooking well to kill off all possible germs is the best way to ensure food safety standards. This includes spores, bacteria, parasites, and fungus. The only reason most people do not cook microgreens is that cooking will degrade some healthy nutrients (glycoproteins and essential amino acids) and vitality.

To grow quality produce, make sure that the seeds you are buying are of good quality. You should also check the reputation of the seed supplier you are buying them from.

Each contaminating source will be discussed separately – seeds, irrigation water, and growing media.

Sterilizing Seeds

Some growers skip this step, but it can also prevent mold problems later. You can find hydrogen peroxide at the grocery store and add a teaspoon to clean water when your seeds are soaking. Rinse the seeds with potable water a few times after soaking them for an hour.

Here’s a study that illustrates how important that is. It was designed to grow microgreens and sprouts by using radish seeds contaminated with E.coli bacteria. Interestingly, both microgreens and sprouts groups showed at least some contamination, while the microgreens group showed lower microbial growth than the sprouts group.

Pick The Right Medium For Growth

Microgreens farming can be done with a variety of growing media. As we explained earlier, the location in which the microgreens are planted (warm soil or soilless) is important to ensure that they are grown in optimal methods. Hydroponic farming was another major topic discussed. Both approaches have pros and cons that are as clear as can be.

According to research, potting soil based upon peat moss contains a greater germ count than that derived from recycled fibers or mats made from jute-kenaf fiber – especially for E.coli and mold. Although more expensive, the one-use growing mat works better than peat soil for sanitized growing.

For small-scale microgreen production, it may be wise to use a growing mat. For microgreens production on a larger scale, soil-based crops are a better choice. However, soil-based crops need a little more care. with agricultural practices.

Is it safe to grow microgreens at home?

Growing at home may not always be the best! Home growers may not always be following the proper sanitizing procedures and quality control measures, which could lead to inconsistencies in quality and germ propagation in an unfavorable growing environment.

To maintain the freshness and vitality of your microgreen sprouts in the refrigerator, make sure they are properly stored at less than 40ºF. Last but not least, if you do not eat them within 3-4 days, throw them away as soon as possible.

Microgreens and Pregnant Women

You should not consume raw microgreens or any raw food if you are pregnant, young, elderly, or have a weak immune system. These groups of people are more likely to contract the infection. Several food-borne outbreaks in the US stemmed from microgreens and sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, and mung bean, according to OutbreakDatabase.

Although microgreens are generally raw, quality products that are safe to eat, there is no guarantee.

Are there any common illnesses caused by eating microgreens raw?

Those who consume unclean raw microgreens may fall victim to a wide range of foodborne illnesses. We will list the four most common food-borne illnesses that are transmitted by eating microgreens below.

Cook the baby greens, as most germs die during cooking. If you are unsure about the microgreens, they should never be eaten raw. Most microgreen infections can be fatal if they are left untreated. Consult a specialist if you notice any symptoms.

Microgreens That Can Make You Sick

Some microgreens can make you sick if eaten in large quantities. They contain substances that are considered mildly toxic. When consumed in small doses, however, they are generally safe to consume. For example:


One of the most popular petite microgreens is the alfalfa. Commonly referred to as a salad green, alfalfa is also one of the most frequent spots for outbreaks of infections.

Alfalfa microgreens contain equally dangerous compounds, including saponins (anti-nutrients), lectins (anti-nutrients), and canavanine (amino acids). Although these natural toxins are mostly harmless in small quantities, one can suffer inflammation, diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, and could develop lupus-like symptoms (for canavanine).


Buckwheat microgreens grow fast and contain fagopyrin. It is toxic when eaten in a large amount, it causes redness, swelling, and a burning sensation to our skin. This causes our skin to be sensitive to sunlight, which can last for days.

Although the symptoms can differ from person to person, some have reported no skin issues when eating the food four times a week, others have reported skin reactions afterward. Several other people suggest it might be another species originating in India, but not the one commonly eaten in the United States.


Quinoa contains saponins as well.

Getting Rid Of Saponins

The easiest method to remove saponins is to soak the microgreens seeds in the water, rinse them several times, and then rub the seeds until the soap-like suds become clear. Some quinoa seed packages are pre-treated to remove the saponins.