Fruit & Vegetable Guidelines
The United States food supply is among the safest in the world, but organisms that you can't see, smell or taste such as bacteria, viruses and tiny parasites are everywhere in the environment. These microorganisms, called pathogens can invade food and cause illness, sometimes severe and even life-threatening, especially in young children, older adults, persons with weakened immune systems and pregnant women.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are important ingredients in your kitchen. It’s very important to take the time for the health and well-being of your patrons to handle fruits and vegetables safely. Below are some useful tips to make handling fruits and vegetables safer, thus reducing the risk of food borne illness in your establishment.
- Check to be sure that the fresh fruits and vegetables you buy are not bruised or damaged.
- Check that fresh cut fruits and vegetables arrive chilled and are held chilled.
- Look at the color and appearance of your product
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Clean all surfaces and utensils with hot water and soap, including cutting boards, counter tops, peelers and knives that will touch fresh fruits or vegetables before and after food preparation.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running cool tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled "ready-to-eat," "washed" or "triple washed" don’t need to be washed.
- Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running cool tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.
- Never use detergent or bleach to wash fresh fruits or vegetables. These products are not intended for consumption.
- Be sure fruits and vegetables are separated from chemicals and raw foods such as meat, poultry and seafood when receiving deliveries.
- Keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry or seafood. Do not use the same cutting board without cleaning with hot water, soap and sanitizing it before use.
- Cook or throw away fruits or vegetables that have touched raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices.
- When boiling fresh vegetables, use lightly salted boiling water and do not overcook them, this will bring out more flavor and the appearance of the item will be beautiful.
- If you are able to grill or sauté your produce, cut the item a little thinner to allow quick cooking time. If it is too thick, it will burn before the center is soft.
- Refrigerate all cut, peeled or cooked fresh fruits and vegetables within two hours of prepping.
- Keep product chilled until ready to use.
6) Throw Away
- Remove and throw away bruised or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables when preparing to cook them or before eating them raw.
- Throw away any fruit or vegetable that will not be cooked if it has touched raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- Always smell the product before prepping it, if there is an unusual odor, rinse the item and smell again. Tomatoes and bananas will give off an odorous gas that smells off, this is normal.
- If in doubt, throw it out!