Resolutions to lose weight, exercise more and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables are part of almost everyone’s to do list when a new year begins.
A great plan… but to make sure all those extra apples, salads, and carrots are safe, we need to remember our good food handling practices. Most people associate chicken and other meats with causing the dreaded food poisoning, but there are lots of red, green and yellow food items that can make one sick too, if not handled properly.
There are several easy steps to follow to ensure that all you get from fruits are extra vitamins and minerals.
Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. When selecting fresh-cut produce such as watermelon or bagged salad greens, choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice. Bag your fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products. Always store your produce like (strawberries, lettuce, herbs and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees or below.
Refrigerate all your produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled. When preparing all those healthy vegetables and fruits, make sure your hands are clean and have been washing for twenty seconds with warm soapy water. Discard any rotten produce and cut way bad spots which can contaminate other produce. All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating.
If the package indicates the contents have been pre-washed, you can use the produce without further washing. Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first. Germs are on the outside and you do not want them to get on parts you will be eating. Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush. Drying produce with a clean paper towel may further reduce any bacteria present.
Here are five ways fruits and vegetables can help create a new you:
• Fruits and vegetables contain multiple vitamins and minerals which ensures you lower your
• They are high in fiber which can help fill you up and keep you fuller longer
• Low in calories, high in nutrition
• Produce comes in many forms, making it easy and convenient to include in a healthy life style
• They are packed with antioxidants which support a healthy immune system.
Always store fruits and vegetables properly. Just remember the FIFO Rule: First in, First out. Use whatever is oldest first and continually rotate your stock to ensure freshness and reduce waste.
So, go ahead and indulge yourself with plenty of fruits and vegetables for the upcoming new year, and create a new and healthier you — but remember first to wash your hands and the produce.
For more information, contact The Environmental Health Division at 910-592-4675.