Don't forget to wash (your produce)

Lynn Celmer

Before serving that refreshing fruit salad at a party this summer, make sure your fresh produce receives the full treatment — a cool bath, an exfoliant and a massage.

It’s important to properly wash all produce, as they can be covered with fertilizer, dust, soil, bacteria, fungi and pesticides.

“Apples go through a wash and wax process before they get to the store, but people should wash them anyway,” said Al Enzbigilis, owner of Western Springs Fruit Store. “People should at least rinse all produce, because the majority of sicknesses are passed on from people handling the produce in stores.”

He added that it is OK to leave the skin on produce after using a brush to scrub it clean.

“Many people don’t know that there are a lot of nutrients in the skin of produce, so people can just scrub them and leave the skin on,” he said.

Enzbigilis gives these tips when washing produce.

- Don’t wash produce until it’s time to eat the treat. Leftover water can foster bacteria.

- Thoroughly wash hands before handling and washing produce.

- Wipe down all food-preparation surfaces — tables, countertops, cutting boards —  before washing produce. Micro-organisms can survive on work surfaces, equipment and utensils.

- Gently rub a clean produce brush over the skin of the fruit or vegetable. It’s important to pay particular attention to the part where the knife will cut through, as pathogens can be transferred from the rind or skin to the inside of the fruit or vegetable when it is cut.

- Wash all fruits and vegetables with cold tap water before cutting them, including oranges, melons and other foods where the skin is not eaten.

- Never use detergents or bleach solutions to wash produce; fruits and vegetables can absorb these solutions.

- Check to make sure there is no dirt still crusted on the produce when finishing the rinsing process.

- Make sure when cutting produce any knives used are thoroughly cleaned to prevent the spread of bacteria.

- There is no need to use a special produce wash product because they can be expensive, and they are not proven to clean any better than water.

Enzbigilis added that when it comes to washing produce, it is more common sense than anything.