Every year, 1 in 6 people experience illness from eating contaminated food. Nearly half of US foodborne illnesses are caused by produce due to the harmful germs, which may occur during growth, harvestation, storage, and/or preparation. Continue reading to learn how to eliminate unwanted “guests.”

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Rinse fresh produce under cool running water just before eating, even if you plan to cut or peel before consumption. Germs on the outside can spread to the inside of the product when cut or peeled.
  3. Gently rub or scrub firm-skinned fruit and vegetables with your hands or a clean brush while under running water.
  4. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry. Allowing the produce to air dry is another option or you can enjoy your food immediately after it has been cleaned! 

Packaged produce labeled “ready-to-eat”, “washed”, or “triple-washed” should not be washed at home. Doing so may increase risk for cross-contamination.

Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach to wash produce. These products are not intended to be ingested.

About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically-managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.