Do You Rinse Fresh Fruits and Veggies?

Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles | May 9, 2017

We all know that we’re supposed to rinse fresh fruits and veggies before eating them. But do we all do that? Do we even know why we're supposed to do that?

Rinsing produce under water helps eliminate a few things: soil, microorganisms, and potential pathogens such as E. coli, listeria and salmonella. But it doesn't wash everything away, nor does it need to. Still, rinsing is always a good idea because, beyond soil and contamination, we never know how many people picked up our produce and put it back down before we purchased it. Nonetheless, from a nutritional standpoint, eating an apple that wasn't washed is still better than not eating that apple at all.

Some produce do require more attention and rinsing than others do.

  • Cantaloupe
    Cantaloupe has an uneven surface with deep grooves. Therefore, the potential for bacteria to spread from outside to the inside flesh during the slicing process is very high. Giving this melon a good rinse beforehand can reduce that risk.
  • Sprouts
    Sprouts are another high risk item. They grow in humid conditions, making them prime targets for bacterial growth. It’s highly recommended to wash them thoroughly before consuming them.
  • Broccoli and Kale
    Broccoli, kale, Swiss chard and other vegetables that are purchased in bunches have soil and bacteria hidden in the leaves and heads. Rinsing them in cold water before eating is recommended.
  • Fruits
    Berries and apples should be rinsed as well, but not immediately after you bring them home. This increases moisture levels, which can speed up the rate of spoilage. Rinse the fruits right before consuming them.

Cooking Produce

Cooking produce to greater than 135 degrees is the best way to kill most bacteria. It’s not possible nor recommended to cook all produce – think sliced tomatoes, garden salad or a handful of blueberries in your oatmeal. So, washing is still the best precautionary solution.

The bottom line is to always rinse your fruits and vegetables whenever you can. However, if you’re unable to do so, you can still eat them. Most bacteria are completely harmless, so don’t stress about it and enjoy your fruits and veggies!


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Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles

Jenn Giles, R.D., C.S.S.D. is all about health and wellness. She has over 15 years’ experience, including a dual master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She supplements all of this with her spin instructor certification and USATriathlon Level I Coach Certification.

Jennifer is passionate about (actually, obsessed with) the sport of triathlon. She has been personally participating in triathlons since 2000 and running road races since 1992. She is a two-time Ironman finisher and has completed countless numerous marathons. She has been a member of Power Bar Team Elite since 2006 and competed as a member of the 2006 Aquaphor/Active.com Sponsored Athlete Team. She was ranked as USAT All American Honorable mention in 2006 and 2011. Jennifer does all of this along side of her husband, Patrick, who is an equally accomplished triathlete and runner. They try as hard as they can to do all of their training and racing together.

She will tell you, however, that her most important, most rewarding and most challenging job is as a mother of four. She knows first hand the challenges of maintaining optimal fitness, overall good health and achieving goals while raising a family - of which good nutrition is the cornerstone.

Most importantly, she knows how to motivate, inspire and challenge athletes based on their own abilities, strengths and everyday lifestyles. She believes there is an athlete in everyone - no matter what their abilities are – and if those abilities are manifold, then there is an even better athlete in there!

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