Master Gardeners: Safe Handling of Fruits and Vegetables

Memorial day weekend is coming soon. Here are some safety tips for fresh produce.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is healthy, but care must be taken to be sure fruits and vegetables do not become contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Everyone is at risk for foodborne illness. Bacteria are everywhere.

At the Supermarket

Separate fruits and vegetables from all meat and bag separately.

Home Storage

All cut or prepared fruits and vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator. Place the produce in the produce drawer or on a top shelf (above meat).

Prepare the Kitchen

Clean the sink, cutting boards and preparation areas before and after using.

If possible, use one cutting board and preparation area for produce and a different cutting beard and preparation area for meats. Always wash knives before and after preparation or use different knives for cutting meats and produce.

Washing with soap and water removes soil and food, but it removes only some bacteria. For additional safety, sanitize cutting boards and food preparation areas. Sanitize by one of the following methods; boiling water, water with bleach or place in the dishwasher.

Wash Your Hands

Always wash hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling produce and meat.

Wash All Fruits and Vegetables

Always wash produce under running water. When possible scrub produce with a clean scrub brush or with hands.

For melons, scrub the rind with a brush under running water before cutting. This removes bacteria before it is spread by the knife when slicing.

Do not use antibacterial soaps or soap to wash produce. Soaking in water is not recommended because of the potential for cross-contamination.

Refrigerate All Leftovers

For more information, go to: http://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/

— For more gardening information go to cecolusa.ucanr.edu/Master_Gardeners.