Hello! I’m back for Part 3-Handling Fresh Produce in the Food Safety Tips series. Part 1 was about handling food properly and Part 2 was on handling meats and poultry correctly. Now this post is going to get specific about fruits and vegetables.
From contaminated soil in the field to a contaminated cutting board on your kitchen counter, fresh produce may come in contact with harmful bacteria from many sources. Protect your produce and your family with these rules.
- WHAT TO PICK? If it’s in season, it’s more likely to be fresh. Be choosy. Bacteria thrive in damaged surfaces. If it looks rotten, it probably is.
- WASH UP! Thoroughly rinse all produce before eating, cutting or cooking. This includes produce grown conventionally, organically and at home, or purchased from a grocery store or farmer’s market. Even what you plan to peel – bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside during peeling.
- SKIP THE SUDS. The FDA does NOT approve of any produce washes or detergents, which may linger on foods and may not be safe to eat.
- A RAW DEAL. Any raw produce that contacts raw meat, poultry or seafood and will not be cooked immediately must be thrown out. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- FRESH FROM THE BAG. Many precut, bagged or packaged produce items like lettuce are prewashed and ready to eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging and is safe to use without further washing.