How is your garden going this year? This is the time of year when lovely fresh produce is in abundance. But be sure to take precautions before you dig into that delicious salad or slice of cantaloupe!
When we think of foodborne illness, we usually think of meat or dairy products as being the culprit. But fruits and vegetables can also present a risk, especially for seniors, who are more vulnerable to E. coli and other harmful microorganisms. The American Institute for Cancer Research offers tips for preparing all those wonderful summer vegetables we find in abundance this time of year. But what about the utensils we use to cut those delicious fruits and veggies?
It’s important to clean all surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water, including cutting boards, peelers, counter tops, knives and dishes that will touch fresh produce. Keep cutting boards for vegetables and fruits separate from those you use for meat. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables.
What about packaged produce labeled “ready to eat,” “pre-washed” or “triple washed”? You don’t have to wash these varieties again at home, because bagged precut vegetables are washed multiple times in chlorinated water to kill pathogens. Just make sure they are refrigerated until ready to eat and aren’t consumed after the “use-by” date. Any bacteria they may pick up would probably come from handling in your kitchen.
It only takes a couple of minutes to wash your kitchen utensils and safeguard your loved ones from foodborne illnesses. Try to buy your produce locally and eat plenty of vegetables and fruits every day for good health and lower cancer risk.
In the next post this month, we will share information about how the way you should best wash produce may depend on its skin type.
Source: The American Institute for Cancer Research. The AICR focuses on the link between diet and cancer. Visit their website (www.aicr.org) for a wealth of information and recipes for healthy eating.
The CDC, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and several other U.S. government agencies sponsor FoodSafety.gov, the clearinghouse for consumer food safety information.
- Source: Assisting Hands® in association with IlluminAge, © IlluminAge 2014.