How to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe?

Best ways to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Your local markets carry an amazing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are both nutritious and delicious. However, harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows may come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during preparation or storage.

Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.” As you enjoy fresh produce and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family.

Buy Right

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting pre-cut produce — such as a half a watermelon, papaya, pumpkin — choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market.[1]

What are the best ways to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe?

  • Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after preparing food.
  • Clean your counter top, cutting boards, and utensils after peeling produce and before cutting and chopping. Bacteria from the outside of raw produce can be transferred to the inside when it is cut or peeled. Wash kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Do not wash produce with soaps or detergents.
  • Use clean potable running cold water to wash items.
  • For produce with thick skin, use a vegetable brush to help wash away hard-to-remove microbes.
  • Produce with a lot of nooks and crannies like cauliflower, broccoli or lettuce should be soaked for 1 to 2 minutes in cold clean water.
  • Throw away the peels of produce like apples, potatoes, pears and carrot to remove surface residues, some fibre and nutrients may be lost.
  • Do not rewash packaged products labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed” or “triple washed.”
  • Once cut or peeled, refrigerate as soon as possible at 40ºF or below.
  • Do not purchase cut produce that is not refrigerated.
  • Eating sprouts can help promote good health. Unfortunately, they can also trigger food poisoning when consumed raw or even lightly cooked. This is because bacteria can thrive in a warm, humid environment and sprouts are grown in these conditions. Cook sprouts thoroughly before eating even if they are sprouted at home [2]

Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices

Here is a video from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on safe handling of raw product and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. You may find this video very useful and handy to find out the best ways to keep raw fruits and vegetables safe.

Help prevent food-borne illness from striking you and your family. Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them.


  1. US dept of health and human services. - Raw Produce: Selecting and Serving it Safely
  2. Food Safety Facts, Best Ways to Wash Fruits and Vegetables, Bolton et al

Image Credit: Flickr/ Andreas Levers


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