5 Steps for Safe Produce

August 12, 2013 | Peggy Martin


Iowa and 15 other states have had an outbreak of cyclospora the past month. In Iowa and Nebraska the cases were linked to restaurant salads.

Does this mean you shouldn’t eat fresh produce and salads because there is a chance you might get sick? No, but you do need to take some precautions to avoid foodborne illness:

  1. Wash your hands and the produce before you eat it. Even fruits like oranges, bananas, and melons, which have thick peels that will not be eaten, need to be washed.
  2. Wash produce under running water and drain it rather than washing it in a container of water. Dr. Cathy Strohbehn, from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, says, “Give it a shower rather than a bath.”  This increases the likelihood of washing away potential contaminants.
  3. Wash all food contact surfaces like cutting boards, colanders, or countertops to make sure they are clean and sanitary so that contaminants won’t be introduced to the produce.
  4. Check the label of packaged produce.  If it says ‘ready to eat’ you don’t’ have to wash it again, according to Dr. Strohbehn. Rewashing washed product labeled as ‘ready to eat’ may pose more risks due to the possibility of recontamination.
  5. Look for good quality produce — no mold, bruises, or shriveling.

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