Washing produce: It’s just as important as washing your hands


Would you eat dinner without washing your hands? Washing produce is just as important, but why do people skip it?

The world is full of germs. From the errant sneeze to the soil, life is full of germs, bugs and other contaminants. While no one can or should live in bubble, reducing the amounts of containments ingested can be beneficial. If that notion is true, why aren’t more people washing produce?

Anyone who has had a food poisoning or a food borne illness can attest that the experience is extremely unpleasant. Some of these issues can arise from eating unclean food. From improper handling to not washing produce properly, bacteria can infiltrate food that everyone eats. The home cook isn’t immune from these scenarios, which is why proper food washing and handling is important for everyone.

Washing produce: It’s just as important as washing your hands, photo provided by Newsline 360/Stop Foodborne Illness

According to Stop Foodborne Illness, produce can harbor harmful bacteria. Washing vegetables thoroughly helps to eliminate the bacteria. Even produce that is peeled should be washed. This practice is especially important for produce that isn’t cooked before eating.

Many of families’ favorite foods are considered quite dirty. Foods like strawberries, peaches, bell peppers and lettuce are considered to be on the dirty list. Just recently, advisors about romaine lettuce were issued. Since fruits and vegetables are good for and necessary for a balanced diet, understanding how to keep the bacteria away is key.

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Knowing that you should wash produce leads to the next step, the how. While a kitchen can benefit from bleach based wipes, soaps and other cleansers, these products shouldn’t be used on foods. At minimum, produce should be rinses with water. Some vegetable washes are available, too. Even if you peel produce, it should be washed.

For example, a lettuce spinner is a great investment. While there are many brands on the market, OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner is a good one. With one hand operation, it is very easy to use. Plus, the clear bowl can be used to serve the salad. The OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner retails for approximately $30 at various retailers.

The best way to eliminate contaminants on produce is to cook it. The heat can help to kill harmful bacteria. From blanching to grilling to sautéing, vegetables can be cooked in variety of ways. Also, adding a few spices can even enhance the vegetables flavors.

Lastly, knowing where your produce comes from can be extremely helpful. Shopping at local farmers markets or even growing your own produce can help to alleviate concern over harmful contaminants. Understanding how produce is grown and harvested can better educate everyone.

At your next meal, remember to not only wash your hands but also wash your produce. One is just as important has the other one.