Tips to keep summer produce safe

Enjoying summer fruits and vegetables while keeping basic food safety tips in mind.

Now that we are approaching the middle of August, it is getting easier to find Michigan grown fruits and vegetables at your local farm markets or maybe even in your own backyard garden. It is a great time to enjoy the local produce and allow your body to benefit from all the nutrients fruits and vegetables provide. MyPlate recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables and summer is certainly the time to make that happen! However, harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows may come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during preparation or storage. Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that before you enjoy those fruits and vegetables, you keep a few important food safety tips in mind.

  • Pick produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • At the grocery store or farm market, bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when packing them to take home.
  • Keep your refrigerator temperature between 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and use a thermometer to verify the temperature.
  • Refrigerate all cut or peeled produce.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, seafood products and produce that will not be cooked.
  • When preparing any fresh produce, begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be thrown away.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean vegetable brush or use your hands.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reducing bacteria that may be present.

Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks is a great way to improve your nutrition. Following the food safety tips above will ensure that your body is enjoying a safe food product.

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