University of Pennsylvania Health System

Focus on Cancer

Abramson Cancer Center designated CCC by NCI

The Cure is Within at the Abramson Cancer Center

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tips for Washing Fresh Produce (and a Note About Raw Sprouts)

Content for this post provided by Joan Karnell Cancer Center

In Beware of Pesticides, we discussed how some produce items are rife with pesticides. Here are some tips for preparing fruits and vegetables for patients undergoing cancer treatement  that reduce the chance of becoming ill from food.
  1. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
  2. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas of fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
  3. Even foods that are peeled  before eating, should be washed first.
  4. Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
  5. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  6. Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present. 
  7. Many precut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. As an extra measure of caution, wash the produce again just before use.
Health Risks with Raw Sprouts
Raw sprouts may contain bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, or food poisoning. Rinsing sprouts before eating does not remove bacteria. Even home-grown sprouts present a health risk if they are eaten raw or lightly cooked.

To reduce the risk of illness, do not eat raw bean, alfalfa, clover, or radish sprouts. All sprouts should be cooked thoroughly before eating to reduce the risk of illness.   
Information is adapted from FDA “Resources for You. Produce Safety: Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices”.

The full report is available at http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm114299
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