I teach food safety to restaurant managers, and through that program they are always sending out information on the latest food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks. Most of the time I don’t pay too much attention to them- since I feel like I take extra steps to handle my food safely (my family calls me the food police). But this week, I saw something about some cilantro served at a few Mexican restaurants in the Houston area making some people very ill. I use cilantro quite a bit- it is probably my favorite herb. So I asked if washing it thoroughly was good enough, since I seldom cook it. The specialist said yes, and gave me this information- so I thought I’d share it with you. It is from the CDC.
From the Store to Your Table
Fruits and vegetables are healthy to eat. But did you know that harmful germs, like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, can sometimes be on fruits and vegetables? There are steps that can help keep you healthy—and your fruits and vegetables safer to eat—from the store to your table.
Fruit and Vegetable Safety at the Store or Market
Check for Bruises
• Choose fruits and vegetables that are free of bruises or damaged spots, unless you plan to cook them.
Keep Precut Fruits and Vegetables Cold
• Choose precut and packaged fruits and vegetables that are refrigerated or kept on ice.
• Separate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your shopping cart and in your grocery bags.
Fruit and Vegetable Safety at Home
Get fruits & vegetables home and in the fridge in 2 hours or less
• Wash your hands before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.
• Wash or scrub all fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Get a good vegetable brush and make sure no one in the family uses it for anything but scrubbing fruits and veggies!
• Fruits and vegetables labeled “prewashed” do not need to be washed again at home.
• Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible, or within 2 hours.
• Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the temperature stays at 40°F or below.
• Store fruits and vegetables away from, and not next to or below, raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
These items can drip juices that may have germs.
• Use a separate cutting board for fruits and vegetables that is never used for cutting or preparing raw meats, poultry, or seafood.
• Wash cutting boards, counter tops, and utensils with hot, soapy water before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.
For more information, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc.gov.