By Jen Ong Tone MHSc RD, #HalfYourPlate Registered Dietitian

Fruits and veggies are an important part of a healthy diet. Health Canada recommends taking the following steps at the grocery store and at home when handling fruits and veggies:

At the grocery store: Shopping for produce

  • Choose fruits and veggies that aren’t bruised or damaged.
  • If buying pre-cut and ready-to-eat fruits and veggies, make sure they’re refrigerated.
  • Separate your fruits and veggies from meat, poultry, and seafood in your shopping cart and bags.
  • Wash your reusable grocery bags frequently.

At home: Chilling your produce

  • At home, refrigerate fruits and veggies that need to be refrigerated. This includes all pre-cut and ready-to-eat produce. Visit halfyourplate.ca to find out which fruits and veggies should be refrigerated.
  • Separate your fruits and veggies from meat, poultry, and seafood, in the fridge.
  • Keep your fridge at 4°C (40°F) or lower.

At home: Cleaning your produce

  • Clean and sanitize countertops, cutting boards, and utensils before and after preparing food.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash fruits and veggies under fresh, cool, running water, even if you plan to peel them.
  • You do not need to use produce cleansers to wash fruits and veggies.
  • Ready-to-eat, bagged, and pre-washed leafy greens do not need to be washed again.
  • Scrub fresh fruits and veggies with firm surfaces or rinds (i.e. carrots, melons, potatoes, squash, oranges, etc.), using a soft clean produce brush. This prevents anything living on the surface from entering the food when you cut it.
  • Use a separate cutting board for produce.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and veggies.

Should I clean my fruits and veggies with a household soap or detergent?

No. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not recommend you wash your fruits and veggies with soap or detergent. As fruits and veggies have porous surfaces, you risk consuming residues from soaps and detergents, which could cause harmful health effects.

Bottom line

Enjoy your fruits and veggies and practice good food safety and personal hygiene practices to keep you and the food you eat safe.

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