Safe handling of fruits and vegetables to prevent food borne illness
Fruits and vegetable are staples in the healthy human diet, yet pose a significant risk if not handled properly. According to the CDC, it is estimated that a large percentage of illnesses caused by food are carried by fruits and vegetables. Various symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain may be the result of these foodborne illnesses; Salmonella, E. coli., and Listeria.
As one National Food Poisoning Lawyer has stated:
. . . to help ensure you and your family are protected from harmful substances, follow these simple handling tips to keep your produce safe. These will include safe practices for both the market and at home:
- At the marketplace
When selecting fruits and vegetables in the produce section, it is vital to know the signs of a diseased fruit or vegetable. Steer clear of bruised and damaged fruit and vegetables, as they are at a higher risk for carrying bacteria. When given a choice, choose only vegetables and fruits that are refrigerated or stored in cold environments. Fruits and vegetable should be home and in cold storage within 2 hours of purchase and removal from the market.
- At home
Correct storage of fruits and vegetables ensures the prevention of illnesses carried by produce. Keep the fruits and vegetables in a cold environment, such as the fridge. This will extend the freshness and prevent the growth and spread of most bacteria. Do not store other raw products with the fruits and vegetables, such as proteins like fish and meat. Also, do not use the same kitchenware on the afore-mentioned foods without thoroughly disinfecting these utensils or kitchenware. Most importantly, be sure to wash any produce you can prior to use with water, patting dry with paper towels. The use of soaps or other cleaning products is not usually recommended when cleaning fruits and vegetables. Also, and vitally, wash your hands before preparing fruits and vegetables for consumption to prevent any cross contamination.
As with most dishes, within 2 hours of being cooked, the vegetables and fruits should be refrigerated in a clean container, at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Leftovers are usually only good, when refrigerated for up to 48 hours.
Continue to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, while taking practical measures to ensure safety!