Prepping & Cleaning Fruits and Veggies

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If your diet includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, you are on the road to good health. If you have a hectic schedule-and who doesn't?-you may be tempted to cut corners when preparing foods. You also may not always remember that "fresh" or "organic" doesn't necessarily equal "clean." If you are not cleaning fruits and veggies properly, you may be inviting trouble into your home.

The Importance of Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, roughly 76 million people become ill every year in the United States from eating contaminated foods. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention have identified more than 250 different diseases that result from food contamination.

The most common culprits are the bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7 while the honors in the viral category go to calicivirus. These 3 bacteria enter your kitchen through the raw meats and poultry that you are preparing to cook. Experts are uncertain exactly how calicivirus is transmitted, but suspect foods are contaminated when the foods are handled with people who are infected with this virus.

Cleaning fruits and vegetables is not just about bacteria and viral infections. Commercial growers use pesticides to kill insects. Your fruits and vegetables may have residues of these chemicals on their skins.

Don't be fooled into complacency about organic fruits and vegetables or fruits and vegetables that you grow in your own yard. These fruits and veggies still have dirt on them. They have had birds and insects around them. Organic fruits and vegetables have also been handled on their journey to your kitchen by other people who may be sick or may have inadvertently cross-contaminated your produce. So before you start digging into your fresh fruits and veggies, you need to make sure they are clean and ready for safe consumption.