It’s summertime in Ohio and who doesn’t enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables from the local farm market? Fresh fruits and vegetables are both nutritious and delicious. According to recommendations from choosemyplate.gov, we should make ½ of our plate at every meal fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. So, why not use fruits and vegetables that offer the benefit of being grown and picked locally?
When choosing fruits and vegetables, it is important to handle them safely. Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated by both the soil and water where they are grown. Protect yourself by following a few simple, safe food handling tips.
- Look for produce that is fresh-looking and not bruised, moldy, or slimy. Never buy produce that smells bad. And, buy only enough for your household to use within a few days. You are just wasting your money if you are going to throw away food that will not be used.
- Keep your fresh fruits and vegetables separate from meat and poultry products to transport home. You don’t want to risk contaminating your produce with raw meat juices, which can contain harmful bacteria.
- Wash all produce thoroughly in cool running water, even if you are going to peel for eating. Dirt left on the outside of a product can be transferred to the inside during cutting and peeling.
- Do not purchase cut fruits and vegetables unless they are displayed in a cooler or on ice. After cutting, all fruits and vegetables should be used within 2 hours or stored in the refrigerator, below 40° F.
- Always store meats in the refrigerator below fresh fruits and vegetables. Raw meats may drip and contaminate other foods.
- Don’t forget to wash your hands often. Wash surfaces in the kitchen such as cutting boards and countertops with hot soapy water. Sanitize with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.
Be safe and see you at the market!
Author: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Reviewed by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Resource: Medeiros, L., (2010) Safe handling of fresh fruits and vegetables. Ohio State University Extension fact sheet. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5353.pdf