By Laura Slatalla, Recent ASU Nutrition Student
Step one, before cutting into vegetables or taking a bite of fruit, is to wash all produce. Produce needs to be washed to get rid of any dirt or bacteria picked up along the way. It’s passed through employee’s hands and is touched by several shoppers in the grocery store. Stockers at the store don’t need a food handlers card to stock fruits and veggies at the grocery store, so common precautions like washing their hands after coughing may not have been followed, and there is certainly no way to guarantee a fellow shopper didn’t sneeze on your apples.
According to the FDA, rinsing with cool water is enough, and actually recommends against using soaps or detergents. For tougher fruits and vegetables, like melon or squash, a clean produce brush should be used to scrub the skin. I like to use a brush on most produce with a natural cleanser to remove the waxy coating. Even though you may not be eating the peel, the bacteria will be transferred to the inside of the produce once it is cut into, so it still has to be washed.
Fruits and vegetables are too often overlooked when it comes to foodborne illness, which is a serious threat. When we think of food poisoning, meat usually comes to mind, but many cases are actually caused by improperly washed fruits and vegetables. We take precautions with meats and dairy products, so do the same with produce. Prepare it safely to keep your family healthy.
My favorite cleanser recipe is pretty simple. You need a spray bottle. Prepare it by squeezing a tablespoon of lemon juice into the bottle. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Add a cup of water. Mix it up well and you’re ready to scrub that grub!