Washing Produce

Rinse Fresh Fruits and Vegetables social media post from Partnership for Food Safety Education.comEating fresh fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful bacteria (SalmonellaE. coli, and Listeria) that can cause foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning. Fresh or uncooked fruits and vegetables can be made safe and enjoyed without concern if steps are taken to reduce the risk of foodborne illness by properly washing before consuming.

All fresh produce should be rinsed or washed just prior to use in cool, clean, running water.  The exception is produce that has been washed by the producer and the packaging indicates, “pre-washed”. There is no need for any special product to wash produce such as a vegetable or produce wash. Produce exhibiting dirt or having a rough skin can be brushed while running under water. Never wash produce with bleach or soap. Once thoroughly washed, dry with a paper towel to further remove bacteria. Even if the rind or skin is to be removed, washing should not be skipped; bacteria can be carried into the fruit when it is cut into.

In addition to washing produce, washing hands (20 seconds under warm water) before and after washing produce is important to prevent transfering bacteria to the produce prior to washing or in preparation.  Surface areas used for preparing the produce also need to be clean.

Lastly, washing produce before storing may promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage, so it is best to wait and wash fruits and vegetables just before use.

Safe Produce.  Partnership for Food Safety Education.
Fruit and Vegetable Safety.  Food Safety.org
Guide to Washing Produce.  Colorado State University Extension.

Reviewed and updated 6/2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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2 thoughts on “Washing Produce

  1. You have mentioned that onion, garlic is needed to wash with water but I have one question that, will it be spoil if it is washed? From your content, I get some special tips to save foods. The content was too informative because of that I shared it on my blog and social profile so that people can know about those essential tips. Thanks for an awesome piece.

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