Though there is no evidence of food or its packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19, it’s always important to thoroughly wash produce to prevent the spread of foodborne illness.
As the world battles the COVID-19 global pandemic, practicing proper food safety and handling protocol is vital. Although it’s common knowledge that one must thoroughly wash hands and surfaces after handling poultry or meat, most don’t realise that washing produce is equally important to avoid cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses.
Learn how to keep your family safe with these simple steps to ensure your fruits and vegetables are as clean as possible before you consume them during this time of extra caution and cleanliness.
Practice the Four Key Steps of Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
You should always practice these four easy food safety steps to ensure your food is as safe for consumption as possible.
- When preparing food, it is extremely important to always wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after handling fresh produce.
- Ensure you sanitise your worktop, knives, tools, and cutting board before you begin cooking. Additionally, separate produce, poultry, meat, seafood, and eggs while you cook to avoid cross-contamination.
- In order to kill viruses and bacteria, cook food to the appropriate internal temperature and make sure to keep food out of the temperature danger zone (40° – 140°F) for long periods of time.
- Refrigerate and freeze food properly within two hours to prevent potentially harmful pathogen growth.
Inspect Your Produce for Damage.
Inspect your fruits and veggi’s at the store and where possible purchase items that are not visibly bruised or damaged. If you notice physical dents, simply cut away any bruised or torn areas. Additionally, it is important to remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage to reduce contamination risk. Lastly, never consume any produce that looks rotten.
Rinse Produce Before You Start Chopping.
Ensure you wash your produce thoroughly with Veggi Wash Fruit Too before eating or preparing. It is important to rinse before (even if you don’t plan on eating the skin) to avoid transferring dirt or bacteria onto your knife, the flesh of the produce or your work surface.
Follow the P rules and only eat foods that are: Piping hot, Peeled, Purified and Packaged.
This means that you should consume food that is heated at sufficiently hot temperatures to help destroy micro-organisms and other viruses, opt for peel able fruits and vegetables (as long as you wash your hands before and after), ensure that your cooked food is not recontaminated and remains purified before consumption and purchase packaged foods (packed, frozen, or dried) whenever possible to avoid contamination.
Dry Your Produce with Clean Towels.
After washing, avoid recontaminating your food and dry with a clean cloth towel or disposable paper towel to further reduce the risk of bacterial or viral transmission from a dirty surface onto your ready-to-eat fruit or veggi’s.
Store Your Clean Produce in a Safe Place.
Now that you’ve successfully cleaned your produce, ensure you store or refrigerate pre-cut items at 40°F or below if you’re not going to eat them right away and the same applies for fruits and veggi’s that require refrigeration. Lastly, make sure your clean produce is not at risk for recontamination and wash again if you suspect it has been re-exposed to harmful pathogens before eating.