Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Even Organic Produce Should be Washed!

According to the FDA, “Federal health officials estimate that nearly 48 million people are sickened by food contaminated with harmful germs each year.”  Click here for FDA website  And while we all want to eat healthier by including lots of fruits and vegetables in our diet, that estimate is not isolated to meats and cheeses; it also includes fruits and vegetables.

Most of us consider the risks of pesticides and herbicides on our fruits and vegetables.  And it is true that unless you purchase organic, the fruits and vegetables you’re eating have been grown in fields covered with pesticides and herbicides.    But even organic fruits and vegetables can be contaminated by animals or harmful substances in the soil or water.  And once the fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest, they’re handled by many people in the fields, warehouses, and finally in your grocery store.  Just one worker with bad hygiene can spread bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, and E. Coli to the fruits and vegetables you purchase.  These bacteria can cause a variety illnesses, so it’s important to thoroughly wash all the fruits and vegetables you eat (organic or not). 

Here are some tips about washing produce from the Food and Drug Administration:

·         Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
·         Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
·         Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
·         Wash produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
·         Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
·         Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
·         Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. 

So remember, even though the fruits and vegetables you buy may look clean, they still need to be thoroughly washed before eaten – particularly foods that are consumed raw. 

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