You Could Get Sick from the Fresh Produce You Eat
“It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.” – Julia Child
Now that’s food for thought! According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, 48 million people have gotten sick, and 3,000 people die a year, from eating bad food. I’m not talking about food that tastes bad. What I mean by “bad” is food that has been contaminated by harmful bacteria or microorganisms called pathogens. These pesky germs are the culprits that cause foodborne illnesses.
Anyone can get a foodborne illness. But people who have disabling medical conditions could get severe, and even life-threatening, symptoms from eating contaminated food. Even the fresh fruits and vegetables that we know are good for us could make us very sick if we’re not careful about how we handle them.
So, before you eat your greens today, consider these helpful tips for cleaning produce courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- Don’t buy bruised or damaged fruits and vegetables.
- Pre-cut or packaged fresh produce should be refrigerated and/or packed in ice – at the store and at home.
- Before and after you prepare fresh produce, wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
- Wash produce before you peel it. You don’t want to contaminate your knife with dirt and bacteria that could get back onto your potato.
- Use a vegetable brush and running water to clean firm produce before preparation.
- Dry produce after washing.
- Always cut away bad parts of fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Discard the outer leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage
- Store your clean produce in the refrigerator at 40 degrees or below.
- Wash cutting boards and counter tops after preparing food
These really are very commonsense and easy food safety steps to take to ensure that the healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables I hope you’re eating every day won’t make you sick. Please be sure to follow them and, bon appétit!