10 Safety Tips You Have to Memorize When Preparing and Storing Produce

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is good for you, right? Not if they’re covered with bacteria and viruses that can make you sick…or worse.

produceInspiring/ShutterstockLately it seems like there’s a new e-coli or salmonella outbreak every week, which is why it’s never been more important to learn how to protect your family from food-borne illnesses. Keep this list handy the next time you’re packing lunch or slicing up a salad. Make sure to follow these safety tips in the summer to avoid food poisoning.

1. These fruits and veggies can be stored on the counter until they ripen and then can then be refrigerated for a few more days. For peak flavor, eat them before refrigerating.

    • Avocados
    • Papayas
    • Bananas
    • Peaches
    • Citrus Fruit
    • Pears
    • Mangoes
    • Tomatoes
    • Melons
    • Winter squash

2. Store potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, such as a drawer or pantry. In optimal conditions they’ll last two to four weeks. These are other foods that you’ve probably been storing all wrong.

3. All other fruits and vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator unwashed where they’ll last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Most vegetables should be kept in the crisper, but summer squash, cucumbers, and peppers do best on a high shelf where it’s warmer. Watch out for these foods that can give you food poisoning.

4. Store greens, herbs, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumbers, celery, green beans, peas, peppers, and summer squash in perforated resealable plastic bags.

5. Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the produce drawer.

6. Wash your hands in warm water with soap before preparing produce (or food) of any kind.

7. Wash all fruits and vegetables—including melons and citrus fruits—with a produce brush and water before eating, pealing, slicing, or cooking. Foodsafety.gov advises against using soap or produce washes.

8. There’s no need to rewash bagged, pre-cut produce that has been labeled “pre-washed,” says foodsafety.gov.

9. Bruised or lightly damaged produce is safe to eat as long as you cut off all damaged flesh, where bacteria are most likely to form. Never reheat these foods in the microwave.

10. Do not, however, eat rotten or moldy fruits and vegetables. They’re home to potentially harmful bacteria and should be composted or thrown away.

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