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If You Wash Berries In Salt Water, Little Bugs Will Start To Crawl Out

It's true. I saw it happen before my very own eyeballs.

TikTokers have recently started saying that you should wash your strawberries in salt water because bugs live inside them.


And, as someone who has always washed my strawberries with water only, I thought this was total BS...UNTIL I TRIED IT:


I filled a bowl with room temperature water, poured in a shit ton of sea salt (like five large spoonfuls), put the strawberries in, and waited about 30 minutes.

I didn't see any bugs floating around in the bowl afterward, but when I picked the strawberries up and looked closely, I WAS HORRIFIED. The bugs blend in with the seeds and start crawling out of them.

Also, if you're wondering if the strawberries tasted salty afterwards, I couldn't bring myself to eat them. But I did rinse them off again thoroughly with water and my son ate them. He said they tasted "a little salty," but they were "fine."

According to LiveStrong, washing veggies and fruits in sea salt can help to remove pesticides. But now we know it also helps remove bugs. I saw the ~worms~ on about six of the eight strawberries I put in the bowl of salt water. EW.

Gilaxia / Getty Images

So, what are the white lil' worms that I saw? They are the offspring of a fruit fly called the Spotted Wing Drosophila. According to Garden's Alive, the females shoot their eggs into the interior of fruits that are just beginning to ripen, especially blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. MEANING THESE BUGS ARE LIKELY IN ALL BERRIES!

Ines Carrara / Getty Images

OK, but how are these berries being sold to the mass public with microscopic bugs all over them? Well, according to Scientific American, bugs find their way into all kinds of food during harvesting and packaging.


Eating these bugs isn't harmful, though. The FDA also has contamination guidelines for each type of food — including how many bugs are allowed to be inside certain kinds of foods, as well as how much mold. AFTER READING THIS, I MAY NEVER EAT SPINACH AGAIN. 😭

If the above text is too small for you to read, it says that spinach can have up to 50 insects or mites per 100 grams.

NOTE: I did not see anything on the FDA website that outlined how many bugs were allowed to be in strawberries, just that the mold count must be under 45%.

So, while this discovery is very upsetting to me, I also know that life must go on. I will now wash all my fresh foods with salt water and remind myself that strawberries are worth ingesting a bug or two...or five.


Wanna hear more about bugs in strawberries??? BuzzFeed has a podcast called News O'Clock, where we talk about weird amazing internet things just like this.

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