Proper handling of fresh produce can reduce risk of foodborne illness | 6/24/2008 | Staff
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Fresh produce is plentiful right now, but it's important to follow some safe-handling tips to help protect yourself and your family, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

"Whether produce comes from a grocery store or farmers market, it's important to be consistent in practicing safe food handling at home," said Rebecca Dittmar, AgriLife Extension program specialist in nutrition and food science, Kerrville.

Dittmar - Handling - Practices - Risk - Illness

Dittmar said some simple handling practices can greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illness from fresh produce.

"You should thoroughly rinse fresh produce with fresh water just before you eat or prepare it to be eaten," she said. "Never use soap or bleach to clean fresh fruits or vegetables, and be sure to refrigerate cut, peeled or cooked fresh fruits and vegetables within two hours of preparing them."

Produce - Ditmar - Fruits - Vegetables - Bruising

When purchasing produce, Ditmar said, be sure to check fresh fruits and vegetables for bruising or other signs of damage. If purchasing pre-cut fruits and vegetables, make sure the product is refrigerated or on ice. Dittmar also said be sure to separate produce from raw meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy and other items while shopping.

"You should also keep fresh produce away from these and other items that may cause cross contamination while it is in your refrigerator," she noted.

Produce - Hands - Soapy - Water - Seconds

"Before and after you handle your produce, wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds,"...
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