Fresh fruits and vegetables are highlights of summertime. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds you that safe handling of produce and fresh-squeezed juice is especially important because these foods are often consumed raw. Some foodborne-disease-causing germs multiply faster in warm weather – making food safety more important as temperatures rise.
To prevent food poisoning (also called foodborne illness) and keep nutritious produce and fresh-squeezed juices safe, follow these food safety tips:
- Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
- When selecting pre-cut or fresh-cut produce (such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens that have been cut), choose items that are refrigerated or on ice.
- Keep bagged produce separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your cart and shopping bags.
- Wash produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking, and dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce disease-causing germs that may be present.
- Even if you plan to peel a fruit or vegetable, it’s often beneficial to wash it first so dirt and disease-causing germs aren’t transferred from the outside to the inside.
- Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
- For pre-packaged produce, read the label – if it says pre-washed and ready-to-eat, you can use it without further washing.
Prevent Cross Contamination
- Always wash hands before and after preparing food!
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood and the preparation of produce that won’t be cooked.
- When using plastic or non-porous cutting boards, wash them in the dishwasher after use.
- Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating.
- Discard produce if it looks rotten.
- Keep perishable fresh-cut produce in a clean refrigerator at 40° F or below.
- Store raw meat, poultry, and seafood separately from produce in the refrigerator.
- Always refrigerate produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.
Check Your Juice
- Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems (such as transplant patients and individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes) risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking juices that haven’t been pasteurized or otherwise treated to control disease-causing germs.
- Look for pasteurized or otherwise treated products in your grocers’ refrigerated sections, frozen food cases, or in non-refrigerated containers, such as juice boxes, bottles, or cans.
- Untreated juices sold in refrigerated cases of grocery or health food stores, cider mills, and farmers’ markets must contain a warning label indicating that the product has not been pasteurized. Warning labels are not required for juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass. If you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized – be sure to ask!
SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration