July 2016
Homeplace & Community

Got Fresh Fruits and Veggies?

Be sure to follow these safe handling tips for your raw produce.

Local farmers markets have popped up all over the place and most grocery stores have an abundant supply of produce that more and more are beginning to buy locally as well. This is great because now more than ever we all are encouraged to eat a wider variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, and the fresher the better. Whether you buy local from the farmers market or from the grocery store, you will want to take some steps to prevent some of the harmful bacteria produce may carry from the soil and water where they were grown, where they have been stored after harvest, and that can be picked up from improper storage or handling before consuming. Several foodborne illness outbreaks have occurred the last several years linked to produce, so the following are some ways of helping to prevent a possible foodborne illness.

 

First: Buy Right

You can help keep produce safe by making wise buying decisions.

 

Second: Store Properly

Proper storage of fresh produce can affect both quality and safety.

 

Third: Separate for Safety

Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood – and from kitchen utensils used to prepare those products.

 

Fourth: Prepare Safely

When preparing any fresh produce, begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation.

 

What About Pre-washed Produce?

Always refrigerate prewashed bagged produce.

Many pre-cut, bagged or packaged produce items are pre-washed and ready-to-eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging, and you can use the produce without further washing.

If you choose to wash produce marked as prewashed or ready-to-eat, be sure it does not come in contact with unclean surfaces or utensils. This will help to avoid cross contamination.

 

Angela Treadaway is a Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety. For any questions on food safety or preparation of vegetables, contact her at 205-410-3696 or your local county Extension office.