Tips for the Safe Purchase, Preparation, and Consumption of Fresh Produce

Follow these recommendations to ensure that you're adequately protecting yourself and your family

Tips for Safe Purchase, Preparation, and Consumption of Fresh Produce
Image: Pixabay
March 6, 2018

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

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

Buying Fresh Produce

  • 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.

Storing Fruits and Vegetables

  • 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 a particular type or produce should be refrigerated, ask your grocer.

Separating from raw meat

  • Wash all cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water in 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 every use.

Preparing fresh produce

  • 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.

Find more tips and food safety information at FoodSafety.gov.