You’re Doing It Wrong: How To Wash Fruits And Veggies

Taken from here.

Earlier this week, we all got super grossed out by the idea that your canvas grocery bags are secretly harboring oodles of disease-causing bacteria. But it’s not just the bags that are getting E. coli and other harmful bugs on them–it’s the stuff you’re putting in the bag. Stuff you may, then, proceed to eat raw or after a quick rinse. It’s time you got serious about washing your fruits and veggies.

Most of us are guilty of, at some point, eating unwashed produce–it looks so shiny and clean!–but the fact is, the exterior of your fruits and vegetables can carry every bit as much nasty bacteria as your icky, unwashed grocery bags. So even if you routinely start laundering the bags, it’s also important to wash the produce itself. But just giving it a rinse might not even be enough to protect you from foodborne illness. Here are some tips from the FDA on how to ensure that your raw produce is in tip-top shape:

1.) Buy produce with unbroken skin. It may seem overly-picky, but produce that’s been pierced is more likely to have disease-causing bacteria inside of it, which no amount of washing will protect you from

2.) Keep it cool. Lots of fruits and veggies are OK to be left out, but if you’re planning on eating them raw, the warmth may help harmful bacteria grow on its surface. When it doubt, stick it in the fridge.

3.) Wash it. Really, actually wash it. You don’t need to buy special produce washing products to get your fruits and veggies clean. All you need is a little toothbrush or some other kind of scrubber, and some warm water. Thoroughly scrub away any visible grime (even if it was grown organically!) under warm running water. Don’t use soap, but give it more than a cursory once-over.

4.) Wipe it off. Using a clean cloth (emphasis on “clean”–don’t use that dingy rag you’ve had hanging on the stove for two weeks) or paper towel, dry the produce. This may help stop the growth of bacteria.

5.) Keep it separate. Once it’s clean, keep your produce away from things that may re-contaminate it, like meat, a dirty counter, or your unwashed canvas bags.

Even bagged produce that claims to have been “pre-washed” may have encountered cross-contamination at some point. When you’re dealing with E. coli and other disease-causing bacteria, it’s better to err on the side of caution (and cleanliness).

Image: Tarasyuk Igor / Shutterstock

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