With summer right around the corner, we start to see many of our favorite fresh fruit and veggies spring up again. We need to remember, that whether our fruits and veggies come from the local farmer’s market, the grocery store, or our very own gardens, it is essential to take the correct precautions, as if not handled correctly, they can cause harmful pathogens leading to food poisoning.
“One in six Americans get sick every year from foodborne pathogens that you cannot see, smell or taste but are everywhere,” says registered dietitian and Academy spokesperson, Sarah Krieger. Harmful foodborne pathogens like E. Coli, salmonella, listeria and norovirus may contaminate fruits and vegetables from the soil or water during harvesting.
Tips to protect your self from foodborne illness while handing produce include:
- Avoid produce with mold, bruises, or cuts, whereas these are great places for bacteria to hide and spread rapidly to other places of the fruit
- Wash with cool tap water and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel to eliminate bacteria. It doesn’t hurt to even wash bagged-lettuce or pre-washed carrots that say “ready to eat” on them to make sure
- Wash produce before peeling to make sure dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife to your fruits and vegetables
- Avoid cross-contamination by using color coded cutting boards: One for meat and one for your fruits and vegetables
- Discard cooked vegetables after 3-4 days and label leftovers with an “eat-by” date to know when the food is no longer safe to eat