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The FDA Wants You to Handle Raw Fruits and Vegetables Safely

Whether from a supermarket, farm stand, or your very own garden, fresh fruits and vegetables…

  • August 27, 2020

Whether from a supermarket, farm stand, or your very own garden, fresh fruits and vegetables are highlights of summertime.

Safe handling of produce is especially important during the summer months because foodborne disease-causing bacteria multiply faster in warm weather and fresh fruits and vegetables are often consumed raw.

To prevent food poisoning (also called foodborne illness) and keep nutritious produce safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends these food safety tips:

Buy Right

Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. Keep in mind that imperfect produce that looks misshapen (but is not damaged or rotten) is safe to eat and just as nutritious.

When choosing pre-cut or fresh-cut produce (such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens that have been cut), choose items that are refrigerated or on ice.

Keep produce separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your cart and shopping bags.

Wash Thoroughly

Wash produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking, and dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to reduce disease-causing bacteria that may be present.

Even if you plan to peel a fruit or vegetable, wash it first so dirt and disease-causing bacteria aren’t transferred from the outside to the inside of the produce.

Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.

For pre-packaged produce, read the label – if it says “pre-washed” and “ready-to-eat”, you can use it without further washing. If you still choose to wash produce marked as “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” make sure that it does not come in contact with unclean surfaces or utensils.

Prevent Cross Contamination 

Always wash hands before and after preparing food!

Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood and the preparation of produce that won’t be cooked.

When using plastic or non-porous cutting boards, wash them in the dishwasher after use.

Prepare Safely

Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing them for cooking or eating.

Discard produce if it looks rotten.

Store Properly

Keep perishable, fresh-cut produce in a clean refrigerator at 40° F or below.

In the refrigerator, store raw meat, poultry, and seafood so that their juices can’t leak onto produce. Always refrigerate produce that is bought pre-cut or peeled.

Use the FoodKeeper App for information on how to safely store different foods to maintain freshness and quality.