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FDA Urges Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Juices

PRNewswire | 7/9/2013, 10:04 a.m.
Whether from a supermarket, farm stand, or your very own garden, fresh fruits and vegetables are highlights of summertime. The ...
Courtesy of fda.gov

Whether from a supermarket, farm stand, or your very own garden, fresh fruits and vegetables are highlights of summertime. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds you that safe handing of produce and fresh-squeezed juice is especially important because these foods are often consumed raw. What's more, food-borne bacteria multiply faster in warm weather — making food safety even more important as temperatures rise.

Follow these tips to prevent food poisoning from produce and fresh-squeezed juices:

Buy right. Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. When selecting pre-cut produce, choose only those that are refrigerated or on ice. Bag fresh fruits and vegetables and keep them separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your grocery cart and shopping bags.

Store properly. Keep perishable fresh fruits and vegetables refrigerated at 40°F or below, including all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.

Wash thoroughly. Wash all produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking. For pre-packaged produce, look on the package — if it says pre-washed and ready-to-eat, you can use it without further washing. And remember: even if you plan to peel produce, it's important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren't transferred from the outside to the inside when you cut into it.

Prepare safely. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. And if it looks rotten, discard it.

Prevent cross contamination. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water between preparing raw meat, poultry, and seafood and preparing produce that will not be cooked. Consider using separate cutting boards — one for meat, poultry, and seafood and a separate one for fruits and vegetables. If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after each use. And always wash hands before and after preparing food!

Check your juice. Children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking juices that have not been pasteurized or otherwise treated to control harmful bacteria. Look for pasteurized or otherwise treated products in your grocers' refrigerated sections, frozen food cases, or in non-refrigerated containers, such as juice boxes, bottles or cans. Untreated juices sold in refrigerated cases of grocery or health food stores, cider mills, and farmers' markets must contain a warning label indicating that the product has not been pasteurized. However, warning labels are not required for juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass. If you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized — be sure to ask!

Keep all foods safe this summer by practicing the Four Steps to Food Safety: clean hands and surfaces often; separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods, particularly ready-to-eat foods; cook to safe temperatures; and chill foods promptly.