With spring almost here I find myself purchasing more fresh fruit to store in my refrigerator and in a bowl on my kitchen table.
This morning as I was getting ready to eat an orange I thought back on all those oranges I ate as a child, never once washing the outside before slicing and devouring. In fact the way I use to eat an orange (as silly as it sounds) was to cut it in half and eat it with my teeth, then squeezing the remaining juice in my mouth. I have no idea how I learned to eat it that way but as a child that’s how I enjoyed it the most. Today I slice my oranges in sections and then peel off segments and eat them.
Anyway, I got to thinking how never once did it even occur to us that the oranges or any other fruit could harbor bacteria if not washed first. So I decided I would share with you what is recommended for handling fresh fruit and those fresh fruit juice drinks we often purchase while we are out and about. Here’s what I found…………
Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or produce that is purchased from a grocery store or farmer’s market. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first.
Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.
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.
In addition, be sure to:
Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
For added protection, kitchen sanitizers can be used on cutting boards and counter tops periodically. Try a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water. If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices
Most of the juices sold in the United States are processed (for example, “pasteurized”) to kill harmful bacteria. But when fruits and vegetables are fresh-squeezed and left untreated, harmful bacteria from the inside or the outside of the produce can become a part of the finished product.
Some grocery stores, health food stores, cider mills, and farm markets sell packages and containers of juice that was made on site and has not been pasteurized or otherwise treated to kill harmful bacteria.
These untreated products should be kept in the refrigerated section of the store or on ice, and must have the following warning on the label regarding people who are at risk for foodborne illness:
WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
Juices that are fresh squeezed and sold by the glass – such as at farm markets, at roadside stands, or in some restaurants or juice bars – may not be pasteurized or otherwise treated to ensure safety. Warning labels are not required for these products.
If you or someone in your family is at risk for foodborne illness, and you cannot determine if a juice has been processed to destroy harmful bacteria, either don’t drink it or bring it to a boil to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
Those at risk for foodborne illness should not drink unpasteurized juice unless it is brought to a boil first.
I know last night I wrote about food safety for your pets and today it’s about fruit but it’s always important to stay informed for the safety of yourself, your children and the elderly. Hopefully I’ve made some of you aware of something you didn’t already know about.
Hi, I’m Vicki Bensinger! I have been teaching culinary classes throughout Missouri since 1992. I offer personalized private culinary classes for individuals and small groups in the comfort of your home or organization.
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