To be sure fruits and vegetables are not contaminated with harmful bacteria, follow these simple steps when selecting and storing fruits and vegetables.
1. At home, keep fruits and vegetables separated from raw meat, poultry, and seafood to prevent cross-contamination.
2. Once at home, store all fresh-cut ready-to-eat prepared produce in the refrigerator to keep it cold.
3. Wash all whole fruits and vegetables, including larger items like melons, just before preparation for eating. Cut out damaged (bruised, discolored) areas before eating.
4. Before and after handling fruits and vegetables make sure your work area and utensils are clean and that your hands have been washed with hot soapy water.
5. Fruits and vegetables should be washed under running water. Soaking them in water increases the opportunity for cross- contamination and is not recommended.
6. Produce such as apples, cucumbers and melons that can be rubbed without damage should be scrubbed using clean hands or a clean scrub brush.
7. Dry washed fruits and vegetables with clean disposable paper towels.
8. Once cut or prepared, all fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated promptly. After serving, refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
9. It is not necessary to wash ready-to-eat prewashed and packaged fresh-cut produce. If you choose to rewash this type of produce follow the instructions above. Always wash unpackaged prepared salad mixes under running water prior to consumption.