To wash or not to wash?
That’s often the question with fruits and veggies. And especially those pre-cut bagged salads and produce that come from your own garden.
Well, here is what some experts have to say about it.
Wash bagged salads and you risk contamination
For those prewashed (often triple-washed) bagged salads like lettuce, spinach or mixed greens, it seems that most food safety experts say they’re fine to eat right out of the bag.
In fact, one Iowa health-department official goes so far as to warn that if you wash bagged salad greens you might accidentally contaminate them yourself, if, for instance, you previously washed some poultry in the sink.
Some things that might not appear to need washing, however, actually do.
But be sure to wash your melons
Take melons, for example. Why bother washing them when you only eat what’s inside?
When you cut a melon, any bacteria on the outside can be transferred to the inside on the knife being used. That’s why unwashed cantaloupes were blamed for a salmonella outbreak a few years ago.
To avoid that risk, you’re advised to place an uncut melon under cold running water — no soap necessary — and scrub it with a clean vegetable brush.
The same goes for things like apples, which are far more nutritious when eaten with the peel on, but which should be washed even if you plan on peeling them.
Washing your produce reduces pesticides
Washing fruit and veggies is also an effective way to get rid of most (but not all) pesticide residues.
Every year our friends over that Environmental Working Group create a “Dirty Dozen” list of the most pesticide contaminated produce. Here’s their latest list of fruits and vegetables you need to be the most concerned about…
|EWG’s 2015 Dirty Dozen|
|8. Sweet Bell Peppers|
|10. Cherry Tomatoes|
|11. Snap Peas (imported)|
Always choose organic when buying these foods.
But that doesn’t mean that if an item is organic — or, for that matter, grown in your own garden without chemicals — it doesn’t need to be washed.
Contamination from pathogens in the soil, or from handling of organic produce after it’s harvested, is still very possible.
The best time to wash fruits and veggies, according to the experts, is not when you bring them home (or in from the garden), but right before you use them. That way, any microbes that might have grown on them in the meantime—even under refrigeration—can be eliminated.
Oh, and one more thing. You don’t need to spend money for one of those special “produce washes.” Researchers have tested them, and found that old-fashioned water from the faucet is every bit as good.
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
Visit www.hsionline.com to sign up for the free HSI e-Alert.
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