Washing Fruits and Vegetables - PIH Health

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Published on February 22, 2016

Washing Fruits and Vegetables

Washing Fruits and Vegetables

Washing Fruits and VegetablesThe proper handling of produce is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Millions of people get sick every year from food contamination, including contaminated fruits and vegetables. After all, produce has been in dirt, sprayed with pesticides, handled during harvest, transported and displayed, and of course handled by folks shopping on a daily basis.

But it only takes a couple minutes to clean your fruits and vegetables properly.

3 Cleaning Methods

No matter which method you choose, make sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap first:

  1. Water: simply hold your produce under running water and rub or scrub gently. Use a clean brush to scrub firm produce and your hands for soft-skinned ones.
  2. Presoak: this method is most useful for rough, firm-skinned, or irregular produce, like broccoli, melon and lettuce. Soak in a mixture of 1 part water to 3 parts vinegar for 30 seconds to a minute and then rinse with water.
  3. Lemon and Vinegar: you can also soak or spray produce with a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar; the increased acidity can help kill bacteria, including E. coli. Leave the mixture on for 30 seconds then scrub and rinse under running water.

In all cases, dry your produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present and prepare fruits and vegetables on a clean surface or cutting board using clean knives.

Just Water

While you may prefer the water/vinegar or lemon/vinegar mixture, most studies concluded that they were not significantly better than soaking your produce in cold tap water. Plain water works just fine if you take the time to do it properly. However, one advantage of the vinegar solution, for example, is that it can help prevent certain produce, like berries, from molding for a few days.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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