Fact Check: COVID-19 Vaccines Are NOT Hidden in Salad Greens

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: COVID-19 Vaccines Are NOT Hidden in Salad Greens Early Research

Are COVID-19 vaccines hidden in salad greens? No, that's not true: There's no publicly available evidence salad greens are being spiked with any sort of vaccine and the claim was made without supporting evidence. Research being done by scientists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and elsewhere, explained in 2021 articles, seeks to produce vaccine components using plants. Since then, there have been no announcements of successful versions of such vaccines. Scientists are looking at whether they can turn plants into "vaccine factories," according to UCR, but the research is still in its early stages, and there is no evidence the technology is in use, nor that the goal is to sneak vaccines into salads.

The claim was made during a segment (archived here) of the "Stew Peters Show" posted to Rumble on September 20, 2021. The post was titled: "MRNA 'COVID Vaccine' Hidden in SALAD GREENS!" During the segment, Peters claimed at 2:37:

Now, unbeknownst to me, they're secretly tossing my salad. I mean, all of this is horrific.

Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:

MRNA "COVID Vaccine" Hidden in SALAD GREENS!

DeAnna Lorraine joined Stew Peters to reveal the newest sneaky way the globalists are trying to kill you, in case you won't give in to the pressure or fall victim to an unconstitutional mandate! https

The segment featured an interview with conservative commentator DeAnna Lorraine. Just after the 1-minute mark, she echoed Peters, claiming:

Now what they're trying to do is sneak the COVID vaccine in your salads.

And later, referring to messenger RNA, Lorraine added:

They're trying to grow spinach and lettuce and other leafy greens with mRNA vaccine inside of those leaves.

Neither she nor Peters offered any evidence to support the extraordinary claim that salad greens are secretly being spiked with vaccines. They didn't reference any research, but work on this approach is underway at UCR. The university released a statement, via an article published on September 16, 2021, saying that its scientists are studying whether they can turn plants into "mRNA vaccine factories."

The research is supported by a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, which describes the work as follows:

This project aims to enable rapid manufacturing of oral vaccines against viruses in plants without the need of specialized equipment or skills. Current vaccine manufacturing technologies need expensive laboratory facilities and cold-chain delivery systems that result in slow and unequal access of vaccines to people. This study combines ideas and approaches from the engineering of particles, chloroplast genetics, and plant molecular farming, to turn chloroplasts of edible plant leaves like spinach or lettuce into biomanufacturing devices for vaccine production.

The research was in in its early stages when exaggerated claims were made by anti-vaccine activists.

On February 26, 2024, Lead Stories conducted a search of Google News' index of thousands of credible information sources and found no public reports of successful use of plants in vaccination. Lead Stories also searched the National Library of Medicine's index of more than a million medical titles. We found the latest review of the work on the technology was a 2022 paper in the journal Phytotherapy Research, describing the state of the technology. The authors that it is still being studied and is not ready for use:

Currently, in the market, commercially plant‐based oral vaccines are not present.

Lead Stories reached out to Juan Pablo Giraldo, an associate professor in UCR's Department of Botany and Plant Sciences who is leading the research, to ask about the work and the claim. We will update this story, as appropriate, if we hear back.


  • 2024-02-26T19:46:07Z 2024-02-26T19:46:07Z
    Updated to note that as of February 26, 2024, there have been no declarations or announcements of successful delivery of vaccines in vegetable, just continued work on the technology.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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