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Sweet Bay Laurel Trees

Q.Are all Laurus Nobilis Bay trees safe to use in cooking?

Zone LA18 4PT | Anonymous added on July 25, 2019 | Answered

I recently bought a Bay Tree Laurus Nobilis from my local Tesco. On the care instructions there is a warning ” For decoration purposes only ” I enquired through the Tesco Website about this statement as I occasionally wish to use the leaves in cooking. Their reply is “Unfortunately our Bay Trees are not grown to an edible standard or on a food safe site, so it’s not recommended to use the leaves for cooking.” What would your advice be please.

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Answered on July 26, 2019

Lauris nobilis is the original sweet bay leaf used for Mediterranean seasoning in cooking. But the warning may indicate that the growers are using a pesticide, possibly a systemic insecticide, that may have residual traces of toxic substance in the leaf. This may or may not be a real and present danger, but they are covering themselves from potential claims.

Another way is to have the leaves tested by a plant pathology laboratory for pesticide residues. You can search this option through a local university or provincial agricultural department or government pesticide regulatory department.

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