Washing fruits and vegetables safely

Do you know how to properly wash your fruits and vegetables?

We are all hearing the messages about the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into our daily food choices. The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlines the MyPlate campaign to heighten the awareness of filling half your plate with fruit and vegetables. The recommended number of servings is five to nine fruits and vegetables each day. Research has shown that eating fresh produce reduces the risk of some cancers and other diseases. But there have also been food safety warnings about raw fruits and vegetables that link them to foodborne illnesses.

Proper washing and handling of fresh produce will reduce the risk of such illnesses. According to the

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fruits and vegetables should be washed before you peel, cut, eat or cook with them. Proper washing reduces the bacteria that may be present on the fresh produce. Follow the steps below to ensure that you and your family will avoid food borne illness:

  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after preparing food
  • Clean counter-tops, cutting boards and utensils after peeling produce and before cutting and chipping. Bacteria from the outside of raw produce can be transferred to the inside when it is cut or peeled.
  • Wash kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Do not wash produce with soaps, detergents or bleaches.
  • Use clean potable cold water.
  • Use a vegetable brush on produce with thick skin, to help wash away hard to remove dirt and microbes.
  • Produce like cauliflower, broccoli or lettuce can be soaked for one to two minutes in cold water.
  • Fragile produce, such as raspberries can be sprayed with cold water in a colander.
  • Once produce is cut or peeled, refrigerate as soon as possible.
  • Do not purchase cut produce that is not refrigerated.

Call your local Michigan State University Extension office in your county for more information on consumer food safety tips.

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