Why Should We Wash Fruits and Vegetables Before Consuming?

Answer: Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with harmful pathogens that collect at any point during the growing, harvesting, processing, or shipping process. These pathogens can cause foodborne illness ranging from mild to severe.

Is there a reason for bringing this up now?

We should always wash the fruits and vegetables we consume. But we tend to consume more fruits and vegetables in the spring and summer than at any other time. This is when the bounties come in from farmers.

What types of pathogens are we talking about?

Salmonella, which can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

E. coli infections can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and kidney failure.

Listeria and shigella can cause fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Norovirus is a stomach illness that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Is paraffin wax a concern?

This wax puts a shine on fruits and vegetables and helps them last longer as well. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it can cause skin irritations, is highly flammable, and should not be inhaled in large quantities. In other words, it’s best to wash it off before consuming.

How should we wash fruits and vegetables?

Use running water. Do not use soap or detergent, which can leave a chemical residue on the produce.

Scrub fruits and vegetables with a clean brush to remove dirt, debris, and some pathogens. It will not remove all.

After washing, Rinse thoroughly. This will help to remove any remaining dirt, debris, or pathogens.

In the final step, dry fruits and vegetables with a clean towel. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria.

How do restaurants and food service facilities wash fruits and vegetables?

Restaurants and food service facilities, primarily because of COVID and increased health concerns, now use fruits and vegetable washes. These washes are specifically engineered to wash away pathogens and contaminants quickly. Rinse with tap water after washing.

Can you provide more information?

Visit the Food and Drug Administration Website

Is Washing Fruits and Vegetables with Water Sufficient?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says washing produce under running water helps prevent you from becoming infected with food-borne illnesses.  

However, while we are doing our part and keeping fruits and vegetables clean by running water over them, the best it can really do is remove physical dirt, pebbles, insects, and other debris from the produce. It does not necessarily remove pathogens from the produce.


Fruits and vegetables are porous and have tiny holes through which liquid or air can pass through. The liquid or air can contaminate the fruit.

More specifically:

Cantaloupes, strawberries, berries, and vegetables like green onions and bean sprouts are very porous. We should also add melons and cucumbers. Further, most all the items used in salads – lettuce and tomatoes, for instance – are very absorbent and often house different types of pathogens. 

Water temperature:

Always use cool water when washing fruits and vegetables for 20 to 30 seconds. Using warm or hot water starts to degrade the quality of some fruits and vegetables, negatively impacting the taste of these items as well.

Peeled fruit:

Always wash fruits with peels like apples, lemons, and avocados. There is always a possibility that soil and pathogens on the peel will contaminate the fruit inside.

E. coli:

E. coli is of particular concern when consuming fruits and vegetables. The problem is that this bacterium can work past the peel into the consumable produce inside. This is especially true if there are cracks or bruises on the surface of the produce.


In the past, commercial kitchens gave fruits and vegetables a quick rinse and then dried the items with a hand towel. This has proven effective, but most are taking more thorough measures since the pandemic. They use fruit and vegetable washes designed specifically to remove dirt, soil, contaminants, and pathogens from produce. This added step helps protect human health.

See this post for more information:  Why Should We Wash Fruits and Vegetables Before Consuming? – Pronatural (pronaturalbrands.com)

Pronatural Brands markets cleaning, sanitizing & disinfecting products made from 100 percent naturally derived, FDA-approved food additive ingredients. They are just as powerful as leading chemical-based solutions – just safer.


Related Posts