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 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 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.
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 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!