Foodborne illnesses are, at best, no fun, and, at worst, can
be fatal. Consumers can get information about current outbreaks and recalls
from the U.S. FDA, the Indiana State Department of Health, or their local corresponding
Americans eat 274 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables every
year, and only rarely does a person get sick from what he or she eats. Yet, it does happen, so food
safety experts work to find ways to make illnesses even rarer. The consensus of
food safety experts is that everyone who handles fresh produce (from the farmer
to the final consumer) plays a role in reducing the risk that the produce will
make someone sick. And even with everyone playing their role, the experts agree
that we can’t guarantee that produce eaten raw will be 100 percent safe.
The consumer’s role begins in the grocery store or market. When
you purchase a fruit or vegetable, you can protect it from contamination by
putting it in a clean produce bag supplied by the store, using a clean shopping
bag to carry it home, and transporting it in a clean vehicle.
Once at home, follow these practices:
- Store produce in a clean
environment and at the proper temperature for the product.
- Before cutting, peeling,
or eating, wash the fruit or vegetable under running water.
- If the product can
withstand brushing, then use a clean brush to scrub the surface.
- Cut away decayed or
- Don’t let cut produce
remain unrefrigerated for more than two hours, or one hour if the
temperature is above 90°F.
- Always practice good
sanitation in the kitchen.
- Wash your hands with soap
and water before food preparation.
- Use only clean utensils
and cutting boards for produce.
- Keep produce away from raw
meat and eggs, and from utensils, cutting boards, or counters that have
been used for those products and not yet washed and sanitized.
- Clean and sanitize kitchen
counters, storage areas, and refrigerators regularly.
Read current recommendations from the FDA for handling
produce in the home kitchen here.
Learn more about produce safety for consumers by exploring
the links below.
Fresh Produce Safety Tips from the Produce Lady at North Carolina State University.
The Education Store at Purdue includes publications about food preservation, food safety, and nutrition.
Eat Clean, Purdue University website with information and resources for professionals about fresh vegetable handling.