Green And Clean
If you buy fruit, vegetables and salads from the supermarket, you will have seen labels instructing you to ‘wash before use’. But why is it important to wash fruit and vegetables and what is the best method for cleaning fresh produce?
Why you need to wash fruits and veggies thoroughly
When it comes to food hygiene, most people know the importance of preparing meat and fish correctly to avoid food poisoning. But when tucking into fruit and vegetables, you may take a more relaxed attitude. It’s natural to think that not much harm can come from fresh produce such as tomatoes, lettuce, apples and mushrooms. However, just like meat and fish, fruit and vegetables can cause food-poisoning if not properly washed and prepared. In addition, some modern commercial food processing methods mean there are chemical residues on fresh produce, too. While these may not do you too much harm in small doses, it’s a good idea to wash your fruit and veg to remove them.
Even though supermarket fruit and veg usually look scrupulously clean, hidden bacteria may still remain. There are a number of ways bacteria can occur on fruit and veg from the water used for irrigation to residues from bird droppings or organic fertilisers. In the past, outbreaks of e.coli, in different places, have been attributed to soil on leeks and potatoes. It’s always a good practice to ensure that fruit and vegetables are clean. This is particularly important for vulnerable groups like pregnant women, the elderly, and young children, and people with a weakened immune system.
Wash them well
If the produce has a lot of soil attached, brush off any dry soil first to make washing easier. Don’t be tempted to save time by giving the produce a quick rinse under a running tap – this method isn’t ideal as it doesn’t guarantee a thorough clean and if harmful bacteria are present, they could splash onto worktops as you are rinsing. Instead, the best option is to fill a large bowl with fresh water and give the veg a scrub under water. Then rinse each piece in fresh water to ensure any final residues are removed.
Once you’ve taken the time to properly clean your fruit and vegetables it’s important to avoid cross-contamination – particularly if you are also preparing raw meat or fish. Ensure that you always use clean knives and utensils when chopping fruit and vegetables and use separate chopping boards for different food types. Make sure to keep raw and cooked foods separate. Peeling and cooking fruit and vegetables also helps to get rid of bacteria.