Steps to keep produce safe

Consumers shopping for fresh produce can reflect on steps to help them safely choose and store fresh produce.

Consumers shopping for fresh produce can reflect on steps that can help them choose and store produce safely, when brought home from farmers markets or grocery stores. Michigan State University Extension and the Partnership for Food Safety education recommend these actions:

Check

When shopping in the market, remember to check the produce for bruises, decay or cracks. These can harbor bacteria and cause illness. If buying cut fruits and vegetables, make sure they are in clean covered containers that have been chilled with ice.

Clean

Wash hands, clean and sanitiaze counters, use clean cutting boards and knives and wash shopping totes regularly. Hands should be washed for 10-15 seconds with soap and warm water. Dry with a clean paper towel or warm air dryer.

Rinse

Wash fruits and vegetables with clean, cool water right before eating. Storing produce that is wet can promote the growth of bacteria. If you wash produce to store in the refrigerator, dry with a paper towel or clean towel. Do not use soap or detergents on produce.

Separate

When shopping, keep meats, eggs and seafood separated from fresh fruits and vegetables. Use separate knives, utensils and cutting boards to avoid cross contamination.

Chill

Keep your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Reseachers have found that keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness at home.

Throwaway

Damaged and bruised produce are susceptible to bacteria. Cut fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated within two hours of cutting. Protect food so that it does not become contaminated with juices from raw meats, eggs or seafood. If contamination happens, throw the produce away.

Following these basic food safety guidelines will keep your food safe and keep you and your family healthy.