Fresh fruits and vegetables are a staple of a well-balanced diet and key to creating a healthy Oklahoma. Like any food product, it is important to be careful handling or preparing produce. The following are simple steps that can make consuming produce safer.
- Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
- When selecting fresh-cut produce —such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens —choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
- Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products.
- Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.
- Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.
- 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. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
- All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
- Many precut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If the package indicates that the contents have been pre-washed, you can use the produce without further washing.
- 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.