Seasonal Food Safety

Image of food wheel

It is estimated that in the United States each year 76 million people get sick, 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 individuals die from complications related to food borne illness. Many are the challenges of preventing food borne illness and it is hoped that the following may be helpful.

Fruits and Vegetables

Summer says "fresh produce": tomatoes still warm from the sun, strawberries meltingly sweet, surely you can think of one or more mouth watering favorites. At the same time, we all need to remember that micro-organisms can be everywhere, even on our delicious summertime vegetables!

Whether they're grown in another country or our own back yard, fruits and vegetables can harbor dangerous pathogens. They can become contaminated by the soil they're grown in or water used for irrigation, by rinsing or even by coming into contact with other foods and surfaces.

Key tips to remember:

  • The fresher the better so avoid buying produce with wilted, moldy or slimy parts where bacteria can multiply.
  • Only buy what you need and what will be used within a few days.
  • Clean, clean, clean: Just before use, wash it. This applies to both fruits and vegetables and includes fruits with rinds or skin. HOWEVER, don't use detergent or bleach. These substances can be absorbed through the rind or skin and if ingested can cause sickness.
  • Keep other germs away! Don't let fresh fruit or vegetables come in contact with raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Make sure that you thoroughly wash any plates, knives, utensils and surfaces that might have touched raw meat before you use them with produce.
  • Refrigerate cut-up fruit immediately.

Please enjoy the summer's bounty safely!