Onions: Some Sort of Magic Germ Sucking Portal Thingy

A friend of mine posted this in an online community that I frequent. Apparently this had been making the rounds on Facebook, and she posted this in a thread I started on said online community mocking SCAM and other pseudoscience.

Let me reproduce it in full, so that you can see that I’m not quote mining. It’s been reproduced online, see here, here, and here.

Wow- very interesting….Everyone should read

ONIONS! I had never heard this!!!
PLEASE READ TO THE END: IMPORTANT

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu…
Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know about the farmer’s story…but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill… I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs…sure enough it happened just like that…the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

This is the other note. Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we shouldn’t eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.

LEFT OVER ONIONS ARE POISONOUS

I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.

Ed, who was our tour guide, is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.

“It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really necessary.” He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the summer picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table, and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

Ed says that, when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the ‘victim’ last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as it’s not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It’s probably the ONIONS, and if not the onions, it’s the POTATOES.

He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

It’s already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!). Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you’re asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

Please pass this on to all you love and care about.

Got it? Good.

Now to get down to the mock/debunking.

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu…
Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Some questions:

  1. Who was this doctor in question?
  2. Why are you speculating on how many rooms this supposed farmer’s wife had?
  3. Who was your biology teacher? Or did you not pay attention in biology class, given the fact that influenza is caused by viruses and not bacteria. And viruses are too small to be seen under a regular microscope. Electron microscopes weren’t even invented until 1931, so while we did know that viruses can cause disease since the late 19th century, we didn’t even know what they looked like.
  4. Why couldn’t the bacteria be just plain old bacteria? Bacteria are everywhere, and it’s quite likely that there was already bacteria on the onion naturally. If you took an orange peel and studied it, you can find bacteria under the microscope too. But does that mean that oranges absorb bacteria?
  5. Are you even 100% sure that it’s bacteria and not onion cells?

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

Because one data point is enough to draw a conclusion. Because testimonials are the same as data. Because herd immunity from flu vaccines wasn’t what kept you from getting the flu. Because it had to be the onion and not because you were washing your hands more or got lucky or something. Because post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs…sure enough it happened just like that…the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

Because you wouldn’t have gotten better without the onion. Because onions don’t go through decomposition naturally.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

[citation needed]

Also, I still don’t see how that’s like possible. At all. My knowledge of science says “nope, nuh uh, nope, does not work like that”. Does yours?

Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s the onions that are to blame. 

Or maybe you have food poisoning. Maybe you had some spoiled milk. Maybe you ate too much. Maybe you ate too little. Maybe you have an ulcer.

I can play the speculation game too!

LEFT OVER ONIONS ARE POISONOUS

LOLOLOLOLWAT

People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.

“It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really necessary.” He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. 

Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, no. If you opened a jar of mayo, that goes in the fridge. Mayo has raw eggs in it, and you don’t want to have that sitting in the counter.

The reason why you see jars of mayo on the supermarket counter in the open? Because the jars are prepared in such a way that it’s as sterile as possible inside. But once you open it, bacteria can come inside and multiply. That’s why you have to refrigerate an open jar.

He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

I made a lentil salad a while back, and it had cut, uncooked onions in it. I was still eating it a week later, and I’m perfectly okay.

And while my story definitely isn’t data, given the fact that the magic bacteria sucking portal mechanism isn’t explained and no source is provided, I’m going to conclude that it’s perfectly safe to eat uncooked onions, even if they’ve been sitting in the fridge for a few days.

Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

Well, yeah, dogs shouldn’t eat onions because there’s compounds in onions (and garlic and shallots and the like) that can harm their red blood cells.

But this doesn’t actually prove anything. Dogs can’t eat chocolate either, and yet we can eat chocolate and not die.

Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

Wait, so onions can spontaneously generate bacteria? Didn’t science debunk spontaneous generation like a long time ago?

Conclusion: onions will not prevent you from getting the flu. Go get your influenza shots. Wash your hands. Eat onions to your hearts delight, even if it’s been sitting in the fridge for a few days. And science!

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