Tips for Handling and Preparing Fresh Produce
The summer season will find citizens from all Union County enjoying fresh produce from home gardens, farmer’s markets, and the local grocers. In North Carolina, summer produce includes beets, blackberries, cabbage, some carrots, collards, cucumbers, peaches, plums, radishes, and more.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a wonderful source of nutrition for our bodies, however, the Center for Disease Control, identifies fresh fruits and vegetables as the number one source of foodborne illnesses. This is primarily because the food is eaten raw and does not go through a heating or “cooking” process. It is important that we clean and prepares these foods safely to prevent foodborne illness.
The first defense against foodborne illness is washing our hands and washing the fruits or vegetables prior to food prep. While rinsing under tap water, clean the produce with a vegetable brush. Peeling the outer skin of roots will also help remove soil. Do not use bleach or detergent to clean produce.
Make sure the fruits or vegetables are not damaged. Precut melons should be wrapped and refrigerated, before and after purchase.
Keep fresh fruits and vegetables separated from raw meats in the grocery cart and at home. Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and fruits and vegetables. These measures will prevent cross-contamination.
Remove any damaged portions of fruits or vegetables before cooking or eating. As with all prepared foods, refrigerate all cut peeled or cooked fresh fruit within two hours of preparation, to prevent bacteria from forming on the produce.