Enjoy Produce Safely

Fruits and vegetables are an important and delicious part of a balanced diet. But, with the recent concerns regarding certain fruit, people may start to wonder what they can do to help reduce their risk of getting ill. The Cascade City-County Health Department wants to remind people that they can take simple precautions when purchasing, storing and preparing fresh food that will greatly reduce their risk of food borne illness.

A person’s first opportunity to protect themselves begins at the grocery store. They should choose fruits and vegetables that are not bruised or damaged and always bag them separately from meat, poultry and seafood. If it is a pre-cut item such as a halved melon, make sure it has been refrigerated or surrounded by ice. When those items are brought home, it is important that they are stored correctly. Perishable or pre-cut fresh fruits and vegetables should be stored at a temperature of 40°F or below until ready to be eaten. Thermometers are very helpful in ensurig correct temperatures and a refrigerator should always be kept clean.

During preparation of fresh foods the following steps should be taken:

  • Thoroughly wash hands, any utensils that may be used, and preparation surfaces carefully.
  • If an item appears to be rotten it should be discarded. Bruised and damaged areas should be cut away and disposed of.
  • Unless produce is in a package indicating it has already been pre-washed, all items should be carefully washed before eating. This includes fruits or vegetables that are going to be peeled.
  • Firm produce such as melon or cucumbers should be scrubbed clean with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Store prepared or leftover fruit and vegetables in a clean refrigerator 40°F or below and away from meat poultry or seafood.

Fall brings a bounty of delicious apples, pears, squash and other healthy fruits and vegetables. By using the steps outlined above, individuals can reduce their risk of food borne illness and enjoy these and other fresh foods year round.