Vegetables are part of a healthy diet. However, they can also be a source of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Use these food safety tips to protect yourself and your family.
- Always wash hands with soap and water before you start to prepare vegetables.
- Use clean equipment, including cutting board and knives.
- Wash all produce even if the skin will be peeled. If a produce item is labeled ready to eat, washing is not recommended and could increase risk of illness.
- Wash produce under running water. A scrub brush can help in cleaning produce. Soap and vegetable rinses are not necessary. If soaking is required to loosen dirt, make sure to finish by rinsing under cool or warm running water.
- Store any washed produce in the refrigerator.
Source: Fresh Vegetable Guide, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/12599
While farmers markets are a great source of fresh produce, here are some tips for keeping those foods safe:
- Choose produce that is free of bruising and spoiling. Do not purchase if the skin is broken, is slimy, or has soft spots.
- Go home directly from the market and store produce according to the fruit and vegetable storage guide, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/store-fruits-vegetables. The quality of produce will decrease if left in a vehicle for too long.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before preparing produce.
- Wash produce just before use—not before storing. Washing prior to storing will cause the produce to spoil faster. Before use, rinse produce with clean running water. Rub briskly to clean surfaces and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Spend Smart. Eat Smart.offers more information about cleaning produce, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/clean-fruits-vegetables.
- Wash reusable grocery totes frequently in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water. Clean all areas where you place your totes, such as the kitchen counter, to reduce the spread of illness-causing microorganisms. Store totes in a clean, dry location, not the trunk of a vehicle.
Eat Right, www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/separate/reusable-grocery-tote-safety
University of Minnesota, extension.umn.edu/farmers-markets/shopping-farmers-markets
As we transition from winter to spring, many fruits and vegetables—like asparagus and strawberries—start to be in season! It is very important to remember to wash fresh produce prior to eating in order to remove any harmful bacteria like E. coli or listeria. The next time you reach for a fruit or vegetable, use these strategies to ensure it’s clean and fresh:
- Wash your produce immediately before eating. Washing some produce—like berries—before storing actually hastens spoilage.
- Wash all produce in cold water; do not use detergents or soap to clean the outside of your fruit.
- Try using a vegetable brush for fruits and vegetables that have a thick skin.
- Produce that has tiny nooks and crannies—like cauliflower and broccoli—should be soaked in cold, clean water for one to two minutes.
- You don’t need to rewash products that are labeled “ready to eat” or “triple washed.”
For visual demonstrations of other ways to select, store, and prepare food, check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/videos).