FDA Recommendations

The FDA advises consumers to: "Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any bruised or damaged areas before eating.'' Consumers are also advised to:

Wash surfaces often. Cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops should be washed with hot soapy water and sanitized after coming in contact with fresh produce, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Sanitize after use with a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water. Don't cross contaminate. Use clean cutting boards and utensils when handling fresh produce. If possible, use one clean cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. During food preparation, wash cutting boards, utensils, or dishes that have come into contact with fresh produce, raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Do not consume ice that has come in contact with fresh produce or other raw products (www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2002/ ANS01167.html/).

In the situation where a particular fruit or vegetable is suspect, more specific advice is provided. For example, in response to an outbreak of hepatitis A in green onions, the FDA recommended: "Cook green onions thoroughly. This minimizes the risk of illness by reducing or eliminating the virus. Cook in a casserole or saute; in a skillet'' and "Cook sprouts. This significantly reduces the risk of illness'' [108]. While a kill step is undoubtedly effective, it would not be applicable to many fruits and vegetables that would no longer be considered "fresh" if subjected to a cook or full blanch and would lose their appeal to consumers. Washing produce without a sanitizer is not likely to achieve the population reductions that can be obtained with commercial sanitizing agents and equipment.

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