Q: My wife constantly yells at me for not washing my fruits and veggies before eating them, but I have yet to get sick from it. Do I need to wash produce?
A: Food safety is usually the last thing on your mind as you prepare your salad, but a report released by the Center for Science in the Public Interest might have you thinking otherwise. The report shows that the FDA found leafy greens, tuna, eggs, tomatoes and berries to be the most responsible foods for food-borne illness outbreaks from 1990-2006.
But that doesn’t mean to stop eating your fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and other produce are an important part of your diet and help lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. By exercising a little caution when preparing your produce, you can drastically lower the chances of consuming a food-borne illness. Foodsafety.gov suggests these food safety tips:
- Buy produce that is not bruised or damaged.
- When selecting fresh-cut produce choose items that are kept at a cool temperature or surrounded by ice.
- Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products.
- Store fresh fruits and vegetables in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.
- Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing produce.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Throw away any rotten produce.
- All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating, cutting or cooking, even if you plan on peeling it before eating.
- Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
- Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
- Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.