I just pulled out a package of frozen spinach and noticed a warning "Cook from frozen, product must be cooked before consumption". I found the same on a package of frozen baby peas and I'm sure I've seen it many times before on vegetables that are often eaten raw when fresh. Are there any food safety issues related to this advice?

I couldn't really think of a problem with vegetables that are commonly sold and stored a while at room temperature. I live in Australia so maybe it's location specific, but having a further look I've found the same warning on products from three different manufacturers.

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    Good question... it SHOULD have gone to the freezer almost straight form the field. On the other hand: perhaps it will just have a TERRIBLE texture when raw, and if we do that, we will never again buy the product?
    – Layna
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 7:46
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    Not that food safety answers are ever "correct" when you say "I do it all the time and have never suffered ill effects"... I've never even seen those notes and have been happily eating still-frozen peas and corn for decades... My guess is that they are having a CYA moment.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 7:53
  • I just checked my peas... no note to be seen... maybe the specific brand has had a food safety issue in the past and decided to play it safe in future? Or maybe the country you're in requires it for some reason? Knowing the brand/country might help.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 7:59
  • See also: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/50001/… Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 11:49
  • Is it washed before picking? If so, in what? People commonly pick and eat vegetables without washing, but there is a small risk because you don't know what's happened to it before then.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 10:05

4 Answers 4


While I agree that these types of warnings are conservative and partially CYA, I would suggest that they not be dismissed.

What needs to be understood is that there are other factors involved past the production method. Even if a mfr./producer observes and maintains the highest quality standards in their production facility, they have no control over how the food products are handled after leaving their facilities.

There are many transportation and storage steps between the time products leave a production facility and the time you pick it up from a grocer's shelf. If, in any one of these steps, the food has not been handled properly, the safety has been compromised.

While I would say that the risk may be minimal, it still exists. I am not overly conservative in my own kitchen, but one needs to know that the risk can be real. And just because something hasn't happened yet, it doesn't mean that it can't.


Listeria can be present and does not die when frozen.



There have been Listeria incidents, as already mentioned, and also Norovirus incidents. Judging how much the presence or absence of a warning on the bag should be used as a reliable guide is very dependent on local/regional labelling and food safety policy.


There is the possibility that your spinach was harvested from a particularly filthy field. If it was harvested anyplace in the "first world" (check the label), I would dismiss the warning. Other than that possibility, what you have there is a warning so overly conservative that it serves to undermine any credibility that the governing body ever had.

In my opinion, that warning should be ignored.

BTW, I'm not of the type to thumb my nose at such things (see: Is smell a bad way of determining whether meat is still good?), at least not here. I am conservative concerning what I will say here, but that warning is ridiculous.

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    I wouldn't automatically dismiss the warning -- remember the spinich / e.coli outbreak in 2006? And unfortunately, I have quite a few favorite recipes that call for thawed frozen spinich (eg, spinich pasta), and often use frozen peas in dishes where I just warm them through.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 9:50
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    @Joe If I saw that warning on one brand out of five, I'd pick another brand. If that warning was on all brands, I'd do the math and say "screw it".
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 12:35
  • After awhile, I wonder how much of it is companies deciding it's easier to hire lawyers to write warnings than to just run a clean shop.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 13:39
  • Given that the stuff is likely machine cleaned and washed, no one can reasonably guarantee there are no contaminants in it - rocks can be easily separated by weight, dirt and chemicals can be washed away, but how to guarantee without manual inspection there are no organic foreign objects? And most of them (inedible weeds, lightly spoiled vegetable matter, hard plant parts, dirt inside ...), would at least be rendered somehwhat safe by cooking. Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 16:55

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