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  1 month ago

What Causes E.Coli in Fresh Produce?

Their presence in fresh produce is not uncommon. Salmonella, E. coli O157: H7, Campylobacter jejuni, Vibrio cholera, parasites, and viruses can contaminate produce through raw or improperly composted manure, irrigation water containing untreated sewage or manure, and contaminated wash water.

A recent study in Food Science & Nutrition found that rinsing or submerging leafy vegetables in water doesn’t meaningfully reduce their burden of E. coli bacteria. Another study, this one from the University of Georgia, found specially designed produce washes were even less effective than a water rinse at clearing away E. coli.
(In fact, the FDA recommends skipping those produce washes altogether.) That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you’re very unlikely to encounter E. coli on your fresh produce. “We see occasional outbreaks, but the risk of getting sick from eating produce is very, very low,” says Linda Harris, a department chair and food-safety researcher at the University of California, Davis.
But even though you can’t wash away E. coli, Harris says there are compelling reasons to clean your produce. “Produce is sold out in the open where anyone can handle it, and it comes from the soil, so there could be dirt on it,” she says.

When it comes to removing that dirt, grime or anything else that could make you sick—including the pathogens sloughing off on your products from other shoppers’ fingers—a simple rinse and, when feasible, rubbing and drying your fruits and vegetables is usually the most effective cleaning method, she says.

Of course, the advice differs a bit from item to item. “Something like an apple with a smooth outer surface, you can rub it as you rinse it,” she says. “We’ve done some studies that show doing this and then drying it with a clean towel can achieve significant reductions of microorganisms.”

While this method works for apples, pears, and other hard-skinned items, Harris says it’s unreasonable with soft fruits like berries. “It’s impossible to rub a raspberry and still end up with raspberry,” she says. With these delicate foods, a good rinse just before eating is best.

That “just before eating” part is important. “Moisture can encourage bacterial growth,” says Marisa Bunning, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition at Colorado State University. So you don’t want to wash anything until you’re ready to eat or cook it, she says.

I'm sure that pre-cut, bagged, and packaged produce items are washed and ready to use/eat...Do you still wash/rinse it?


  1 month ago
unwashed Reply


  1 month ago
That's why it's always a good idea to wash your produce before eating it Reply


  1 month ago
dirt from other shoppers Reply


  1 month ago
Yep I do Reply


  1 month ago
Yes I still do Reply


  1 month ago
I think it's always a good idea to re-wash again - do you always make sure to wash again? Reply


  1 month ago
I still rinse them....I once found a little worm in a vacuumed bag Reply

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