How should you wash fruits and veggies? 5 tips to do it right

The FDA estimates almost 48 million people get sick from contaminated food. Fresh produce can become contaminated during growing, harvesting, inadequate storage or food prep.

“That’s why it’s so important to clean your produce before eating, cutting or cooking it,” says Pamela Voelkers, dietician and integrative health coach from Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, WI. “And there’s a proper way to do it that’s simple and effective.”

It’s the holidays and some may see it as the season to overindulge in high-fat or sugary foods. That’s why having plenty of nutrient-packed fruits and veggies on the holiday buffet is a wellness must.

It’s also a must to start your menu preparations with clean produce.

How should you wash fruits and veggies? 5 tips to do it right

Voelkers shares these tips:

  1. Wash your hands, kitchen utensils, cutting boards and countertops with warm water and soap BEFORE and AFTER preparing fresh produce.
  2. Examine produce and remove any damaged or bruised areas. Remove outermost leaves of lettuce or cabbage.
  3. Clean the produce, including those you plan to peel.
    • Rinse under cool, running water while gently rubbing.
    • For firm produce such as potatoes, melons and cucumbers, scrub with a clean vegetable brush BEFORE peeling, as dirt or germs on the peel can get inside when you cut them.
  4. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  5. There’s no need to wash bagged or packaged fruits and vegetables that are labeled prewashed.

“Both the FDA and CDC do not recommend washing fruits and vegetables with soap or produce wash, because residues from the cleaning product can stay on the produce,” Voelkers says. “And, manufacturers follow strict processes to package prewashed, ready-to-eat fruits and veggies. Washing this produce can actually increase the chances of contaminating it because you’d be handling it more and touching more surfaces like the sink.”

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