Even though fruits, vegetables and juice are nutritious parts of the diet, there are some food safety precautions. For example, contaminated melons, sprouts and raspberries have been linked with food borne illness outbreaks. Here are some food safety tips:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before handling produce and any other food.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables with cool running tap water right before eating. Don't use dish soap or detergent because these products are not approved or labeled by the FDA for use on foods.
- Scrub melons with a brush and running water, because bacteria can be transferred from the outside of the melon to the inside by a knife.
- Don't cross-contaminate: Use clean utensils and cutting boards when peeling or cutting up produce. Wash cutting boards with soap and water, rinse and sanitize between uses. A solution of 1 teaspoon bleach per quart of water is considered safe and effective.
- Cut away bruised parts before eating. Remove the outer leaves from lettuce and cabbage.
- Avoid serving sprouts to at-risk populations like the very young, old, or those whose immune system isn't able to function at normal levels. For example, people undergoing cancer treatment often cannot eat fresh produce.
- Keep fresh cut produce cold by placing serving containers on ice. Perishable food should spend no more than two hours in the "danger zone" (40 to 140oF).
- Store produce in containers that are free from excess liquid.
- Refrigerate cut produce and use within a few days.