According to various posts that circulate via social media and video sharing websites, romaine lettuce leaves are covered by a thin film of plastic. The posts feature videos showing people peeling off the supposed plastic film from the lettuce leaves.
Shared videos showing the supposedly plastic coated lettuce go back to at least 2012.
The videos have caused outrage among viewers who believe that they have been inadvertently eating plastic with their lettuce. Some have suggested that government or food industry conspiracies are afoot.
But, at least in this case, the outrage is misplaced. The thin film depicted in the videos is not plastic. In fact, the film is a completely natural substance that forms when the lettuce is grown in colder temperatures.
The cold can cause epidermal blistering on the outer skin of romaine and other types of lettuce. Consumers who subsequently buy the lettuce may encounter this freeze burned skin and even be able to peel it off as shown in the videos. And, at least at first glance, this peel does resemble a thin plastic film of some kind.
A February 2012 post on the Albert’s Organics blog explains:
There is a video circulating on the internet showing romaine lettuce with what appears to be a “plastic coating” peeling off the lettuce. We have received quite a few inquiries about this and wanted to address the concern. This “coating” is actually the “Epidermal or Skin Layer” of the lettuce and “not plastic”, which is why consumers of both organic and conventionally grown product have noticed the affect. It has nothing to do with anything that has been applied externally to the product.
And a January 2018 video on the “Live From The Fields” YouTube channel features a farmer further discussing the epidermal peeling:
For the record, the epidermal peeling that consumers may encounter has no connection to the recent E. coli bacterial contamination of some romaine lettuce that has been tied to the deaths of five people. The contamination has been traced to a tainted irrigation canal in Arizona.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!