■ Extension Notes: Keep fruits and vegetables safe

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Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables since so many of them are in season. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and other healthy substances, but they also can harbor harmful bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. It is important to consistently follow safe food handling practices to help protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness. 

• Check fresh produce for signs of cuts or bruising, where harmful bacteria can breed.

Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are not bruised or damaged.

Select pre-cut fruits and vegetables like packaged salads and sliced melons that are refrigerated or on ice.

• Clean hands, surfaces and utensils to prevent contamination.

Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Clean surfaces and utensils with hot water and soap, including cutting boards and knives, before and after preparing fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Rinse fresh fruits and veggies just before eating.

• Just before use, rinse under running water only fruits and vegetables you plan to eat, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten

• Firm-skinned fruits and vegetables should be rubbed by hand or scrubbed with a clean brush while rinsing under running tap water.

• Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed”, or “triple washed” have already been washed and do not need to be washed again.

• Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth or paper towel

• Do not use soap or bleach to wash fresh fruits or vegetables. These products are not intended to be eaten.

• Separate produce from raw meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and household chemicals.

In your shopping cart and in bags at checkout, separate fresh fruits and vegetables from household chemicals and raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs to prevent cross-contamination. In your refrigerator, keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

• When preparing food, keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry seafood, and eggs. Do not use the same cutting board or utensils without cleaning with hot water and soap before and after preparing fresh fruits and vegetables. It may be helpful to designate a specific cutting board to only be used for fruits and vegetables.

• Chill cut fresh produce within two hours to prevent bacteria growth.

Keep your refrigerator at or below 40°F.

Refrigerate cut, peeled or cooked fresh fruits and vegetables within two hours of preparing.

• Throw away bruised, damaged, or potentially cross-contaminated produce.

Throw away fresh fruit and vegetables that have not been refrigerated within two hours of cutting, peeling or cooking.

• Remove and throw away bruised or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables when preparing to cook them or before eating them raw.

• Throw away fruit or vegetables that have touched raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

• If in doubt, throw it out!

Resource: www.fightbac.org

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