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Do I Really Need to Wash Fruits and Vegetables Before Eating?

By Clare Foley, DNP, FNP-BC
Department of Family Medicine

While it’s tempting to just grab that crisp head of lettuce or delicious apple out of the fridge and have a taste, it’s important to always wash your produce before consuming to help prevent any potential food poisoning. Just a few simple steps will help protect you and your family and cut down the risk of any potential dangers from food.

Here’s some tips on washing your food:

  • Always wash your hands before handling any fruits and vegetables
  • Rinse foods under cold, running tap water for about 7-10 seconds
  • There’s no need to rewash greens or other items that say “pre-washed” on the label
  • Special produce washes are not recommended by experts – clean, tap water is fine at removing germs and pesticides
  • Hot water is not more effective than cold water for rinsing, so always use cold water
  • When washing greens such as romaine lettuce, try breaking off and rinsing individual leaves, then dry in a salad spinner.
  • Always wash produce before peeling it or cutting it. Using a brush on larger items such as melons can clean them more effectively.
  • There is no need to rinse frozen produce before consumption, but be sure to follow the handling instructions on the package

Keep in mind that although no food is sterile, washing helps decrease the amount of microorganisms by 90-99% and greatly reduces the risk of food poisoning. So always wash your greens, fruits, and raw vegetables before eating!

Do I Really Need to Wash Fruits and Vegetables Before Eating?

About Clare Foley, DNP

A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and the UMass Medical School Graduate School of Nursing, Clare worked as an RN before becoming an advanced practitioner.

Clare was inspired to enter medicine by her brother, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while in his teens. “After he was admitted to the ICU and went into a coma, I realized that if he had a medical provider who took the time to ask the right questions, this may...

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