The environments which are used to grow fruit and vegetables can sometimes carry harmful bacteria and, although food producers have good systems in place to clean produce before it reaches the consumer, the risk can never be entirely eliminated.
Extra care should be taken when handling loose produce as it tends to have more soil attached to it than pre-packaged fruit and vegetables.
It is important to remember the following when handling raw fruit and vegetables:
Keep unwashed raw fruit and vegetables separate from ready-to-eat food during storage and preparation.
Use different chopping boards, knives and utensils for unwashed raw vegetables and ready-to-eat foods or wash these items thoroughly in between uses.
Always wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw food, including vegetables.
Check the label - unless packaging around vegetables says ‘ready-to-eat’ you must wash, peel or cook them before eating.
When you are washing raw vegetables, it’s important to avoid cross-contamination. Rubbing them under water, for example in a bowl of fresh water, will help to reduce splashing. Try to wash the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse. Brushing off dry soil before washing may help reduce the amount of washing required to clean the vegetables thoroughly.