Is your fruit and veg safe to eat?
Getting your daily dose of fruit and vegetables is a great way to keep the doctor away, but how can you ensure that it is safe to consume? Here we take a look.
According to the NHS, fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as folate, vitamin C and potassium. Not only are they an excellent source of dietary fibre - helping to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation - they can also lower your risk of bowel cancer.
But we don’t need statistics and professional health bodies to tell us that eating our 5-a-day is good for us. However, if we fail to properly prepare and serve these foods then they may become a risk and unsafe for us to consume.
If you’re chopping up vegetables on a board that has previously had raw meat on it, then it could become dangerous. Even before you prepare fruit and vegetables, in their raw state, they could contain harmful germs such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which could cause food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America, almost half of foodborne illnesses are caused by germs on contaminated produce.
How do I prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses?
While the answer to preventing contamination and the spread of foodborne illnesses begins with washing fruit and vegetables, there are also other precautions you can take. Even the most simple of actions could prevent you from contracting a dangerous illness.
Before consumption, why not check fruits and vegetables for any bruising? If they looked damaged, throw them away to avoid the spread of germs. Just like when preparing other types of food, make sure you wash your hands, kitchen utensils, and food preparation surfaces. This includes wiping down chopping boards and countertops before preparing fruit or vegetables.
What is the best way to store and prepare fruit and veg?
Before eating, cutting or cooking fruit and vegetables make sure you clean them, even if the packaging says the contents have been pre-washed. You can do this under cold running water, even when you don’t plan to eat the skin or peel - this is so dirt or germs don’t transfer from the surface to the inside when you cut into the produce. When you have done this, dry the fruit or vegetables with a clean paper towel.
When it comes to storing fruit and vegetables, keep them separate from other foods (meats, seafood, poultry) that could potentially contaminate them. If you have cut up, peeled, or cooked any of the foods, refrigerate them as quickly as possible or at least within two hours. However, if you are in a warm environment where the temperature outside is above 90F, refrigerate the fruit or vegetables within one hour. It’s also important that they are stored at 40F or less, in a clean container.