By Leyanee Perez, RD, LDN
We all know the importance of washing our hands to stay healthy. But did you know that all fresh fruits and vegetables need to be washed just as thoroughly? Check out these steps that you can follow to ensure your fruits and veggies are clean and ready to enjoy!
Check for cuts, bruises, or mold. These could be signs of bacteria growth. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are not bruised or damaged.
Rinse all produce when you get home from the store and just before eating.
- Do not use soap or bleach to wash fresh fruits or vegetables. These products are not intended for consumption and the porous surface on fresh produce can absorb the ingredients in soap or bleach.
- Rinse all fruits and vegetables under running water, including those with skins or rinds that are not eaten. Firm-skinned fruits and vegetables should be rubbed by hand or scrubbed with a clean brush while rinsing under running tap water even if the peel will not be eaten. Dirt and bacteria can be transferred from the peel to the inside of the fruit as it is sliced or peeled.
- Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled "triple washed" or "ready to eat" should not be washed.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating. Remove and discard outer leaves of lettuce.
- Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- Wash canned products or prepacked individual containers before opening them to avoid harmful bacteria falling into food.
Refrigerate all cut, peeled, or cooked fresh fruits and vegetables within two (2) hours of preparation. Keep refrigerated at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Note that some fresh produce does not need to be refrigerated such as bananas, potatoes or avocados. Other produce such as apples, cucumbers and lettuce need refrigeration to lengthen its shelf life or to prevent rapid spoilage such as with berries and mushrooms. Discard cooked vegetables after three days and any cut produce that is left at room temperature for more than two hours.
WASH YOUR HANDS
Wash your hands before handling, preparing or eating food and when feeding children or the elderly. Also, wash your hands when switching food preparation tasks such as working with raw meat or handling eggs and then cutting vegetables. Use two separate cutting boards, one for raw meats and the other for fruits and vegetables. Color-coded or two-sided cutting boards can help you remember. Avoid touching your hair or any other part of your body, other people, pets, or using the phone during food preparation.
Take out meals instead of eating out of the containers, plate your food for better portion control and sanitation. You can also save part of your meal for later. When ordering out, choose a restaurant that has a healthy children's menu. Remember, even if we are not cooking together or sitting together at the table, eating at the same time makes family meals a regular routine.
Get Movin' with #GiveMe5
In addition to adopting healthier eating habits, it's important to get moving! We invite you and your family to join our Healthy Kids Challenge by downloading the Walker Tracker app on your tablet or smartphone. The more steps you take, the more chances you have to win an Apple Watch or a Whole Foods gift card!
There are many benefits to eating well, from disease prevention to overall health and wellness. That’s why Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation have partnered with Kohl’s Cares on a program called #GiveMe5 to encourage children and families throughout the community to stay active and eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Our partnership brings healthy eating tips and recipes to kids in local schools and to families at various community events throughout the year. For more information, please visit our #GiveMe5 page.
About Leyanee Perez
Leyanee Perez is a Registered / Licensed Dietitian specializing in Community Programs and Health Communications who has worked with Nicklaus Children's Health System since 2018. She has impacted the lives of many children and families throughout Miami-Dade County through the nutrition outreach program called #GiveMe5, a partnership between Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation and Kohl’s Cares. She works in collaboration with government agencies, faith-based organizations and schools to host a farmer’s market and deliver educational workshops focused on the importance of eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.