Following these tips can help keep your produce safe for consumption

Bowl of Vegetables / Tips for Safe Purchase, Preparation, and Consumption of Fresh Produce
Image: Pixabay
February 17, 2017

Happy National Food Safety Month! Let's celebrate with some tips for safely selecting and serving raw produce.

Since fresh produce is often grown in uncontrolled environments, there is always a chance of contamination. Fruits and vegetables can come into contact with harmful bacteria in soil or water, or it could become tainted during the harvesting or storage process.

Ingesting contaminated produce can lead to many foodborne illnesses. Follow these U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations to ensure you're protecting yourself and your family.


  • Choose produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • For pre-cut produce, choose items are that are properly refrigerated.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables in separate bags, apart from meat, poultry, or seafood.


  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below.
  • Refrigerate all pre-cut produce.
  • If you are unsure whether an item should be refrigerated, ask your grocer.


  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
  • If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.


  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas. If your produce looks rotten, it probably is rotten.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or purchased from a grocery store or farmer's market.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren't transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.