Is Washing Fruits and Vegetables with Water Sufficient? Some may think it is unnecessary, believing fruits and vegetables are washed and cleaned before they are marketed. For those, let’s look a bit deeper into the topic.
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 food items
Cantaloupes, strawberries, 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 diverse types of pathogens.
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.
Always wash fruits and vegetables 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 is of particular concern. 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. Most are now 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.
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