July 2017
Homeplace & Community

Fresh Produce

Selecting and Serving It Safely

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Local farmers markets are popping up everywhere. They have very fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables that are both nutritious and delicious. However, harmful bacteria may have been in the soil or water where produce grows and can come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, when washed or stored. So always always wash your produce at home under cool, running water before consuming, especially any that will be eaten raw.

Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, often called food poisoning. As you enjoy fresh produce and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family.

 

Buy Right

You can help keep produce safe by making wise buying decisions at the grocery store or farmers market.

 

Store Properly

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

 

Separate for Safety

Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry or seafood and from kitchen utensils used for those products. Take these steps to avoid cross-contamination:

 

Prepare Safely

 

What About Prewashed Produce?

Many precut, bagged or packaged produce items such as lettuce are prewashed and ready-to-eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging. If the package indicates that the contents are prewashed and ready-to-eat, you can use the produce without further washing.

 

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.