Eating fruits and vegetables is healthy and delicious, but equally as important is applying safe, hygienic practices and ensuring your produce is properly cleaned before being prepared or eaten.
Here are some guidelines on how this can be accomplished.
Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after preparing food.
Clean your countertop, cutting boards and utensils after peeling produce, and before cutting and chopping.
Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw animal-based foods such as meat, poultry and seafood, as bacteria from these raw foods can be transferred to your produce.
Use clean, potable, cold water to wash the produce, but don't use soap, detergent or disinfectants.
Wash leafy greens by separating the leaves and soaking them in cool water for a few minutes. Produce with a lot of nooks and crannies like cauliflower, broccoli or lettuce should be soaked for one to two minutes in cold clean water. Drain the greens using a strainer or colander.
For produce with thick skin, use a brush to wash away hard-to-remove dirt.
Some delicate fruits, like raspberries, should not be soaked in water. Instead, put this type of fragile produce in a colander and spray it with distilled water.
Once your fruits and vegetables are cut, peeled or cooked, refrigerate them as soon as possible (within 2 hours, or sooner if the room is warm) at 40ºF or below.