Safe Food Handling of Fruits and Vegetables

Families, Food and Fitness August 25, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF

Here are some suggestions for handling fresh fruits and vegetables safely.

  • Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks damaged or rotted should be discarded.
  • All produce should be thoroughly washed under running water before eating. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home or produce that is purchased from a grocery store or farmer’s market.
  • 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.

washing vegetables

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, to be sure to:

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops 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 countertops 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.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.