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Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Food Safety

The U.S. produce supply is one of the safest in the world, but it’s still important to choose and prepare your foods wisely. To enjoy all the healthy, tasty benefits fruits and vegetables have to offer, follow these simple tips:

separate in store and at home – When shopping, keep fresh fruit and vegetables in their own plastic bags. Place these items away from chemical household cleaners, raw meats, poultry and fish in both your shopping cart and grocery bags. To prevent cross-contamination, store produce separate from raw meat, poultry or seafood in your refrigerator.

keep it clean – Moisture promotes mold, so don’t wash your produce until you’re ready to use. Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables, including those with skins and rinds that may not be consumed, with cold running tap water (or for convenience, use Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash). Then rinse and dry with a clean towel. Firm-skin produce such as potatoes and carrots should be scrubbed with a vegetable brush before rinsing. Packaged fruits and vegetables marked ready-to-eat need not be washed.

kitchen prep – Promptly cook or discard any produce that comes in contact with raw meat, poultry or seafood. It’s recommended that separate cutting boards be used for produce, raw meat, poultry and seafood. If using the same board, scrub with soap and hot water, and sanitize between uses.

how to sanitize – Before cutting fresh produce, it’s very important to wash and sanitize knives and all kitchen surfaces to prevent accidental food contamination. In a spray bottle, mix 4 cups water with 1 teaspoon unscented bleach. Spray cutting boards, countertops, knives and sink; let sit one minute, then wipe down or air-dry.

storage temperatures – Store fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator at or below 41°F, especially cut tomatoes and sprouts. Store bananas and tomatoes at 68 to 72°F (room temperature). Store eggplant, hard-rind squash, onions and potatoes at 50 to 60°F. Cut or peeled fruits and vegetables should be stored at or below 41°F within two hours of cutting or peeling.

importance of washing melons – Melons are grown near the ground and are exposed to pests and microorganisms that may harbor salmonella bacteria. To prevent the transfer of bacteria to the melon flesh, wash the outside thoroughly with cold water, scrubbing with a brush to remove any visible dirt before cutting.

And remember… after handling fresh produce, it is important to thoroughly wash your hands.