According to the most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 people get hospitalized, and approximately 3,000 people die each year as a result of foodborne pathogens in the United States. In addition to cleaning food properly, it’s also important to know how long you can safely store foods whether refrigerated or frozen. The last line of defense against foodborne illness occurs in your own kitchen as you follow proper guidelines to safely clean and prepare your food.
1. Wash Fruits and Vegetables with Cold Water
2. Scrub Produce Clean, Even if You Peel
3. Use a Vegetable Wash and Rinse with Water
Avoid commercial produce sprays that contain soap, bleach, preservatives or unrecognizable chemicals. These can change the taste of your food or even make some with sensitive stomachs sick. Also, if you use a spray wash, make sure you continue to rinse your produce under cold water for up to two minutes, scrubbing if possible. A spray alone is not strong enough to dislodge the specks of dirt that may carry contaminants.
4. Save Money, Make Your Own Vinegar Vegetable Wash
In addition to using diluted vinegar for cleaning produce, you can use a fifty-fifty vinegar and water mix to help clean and disinfect many surfaces such as ceramics, glassware, windows, glass sliding doors, and the interiors of microwaves and refrigerators. Vinegar is one of the best solutions for helping to dissolve water mineral buildups around faucets or the showerhead in a bathroom and can be helpful for removing mold and mildew. Note, you do not want to use vinegar for cleaning natural stone countertops or floors, wood, or rubberized parts of appliances (such as refrigerator door seals) unless you know for certain that they are of a material safe from deterioration by the acids in vinegar.
5. Watch Out for Cross Contamination When Cooking
Don’t forget that fruit and vegetable scraps are a great addition to a compost pile. If you don’t have the space for a large compost area, then direct composting might be the perfect solution for you. Learn more in our Guide to Direct Composting.