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Lower Your Risk: Be Sure to Clean Your Fruits and Vegetables

If you are one of the 48 million who has experienced the unpleasant symptoms of food poisoning each year, I am sure that it is something you never want to go through again. While most of you know that animal products such as chicken, beef, pork and eggs can be the culprit, you may be surprised to find out that in recent years there have been large outbreaks of food borne illnesses caused by fruits and vegetables including spinach, tomatoes and lettuce.

According to the FDA, if you follow these nine recommendations you can dramatically lower your risk.

  1. Do not buy damaged or bruised produce.
  2. Refrigerate precut items such as watermelon and lettuce.
  3. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  4. Cut  away damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  5. Gently rub produce while holding it under plain running water. There is no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  6. Wash produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt  and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable. 
  7. Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumber.
  8. Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  9. Throw away the outer most leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.

To see these recommendations in action view the video below. For more information on food safety in general, visit to www.foodsafety.gov.

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