Coronavirus has rapidly spread to many parts of the world, and a number of countries are on complete or partial lockdown. Governments are trying their best to ensure supply of essential commodities to the public during these testing times.
Food safety and handling is of utmost importance right now. There are a number of people resorting to practices such as washing the fruits and vegetables in soap or detergent before consumption, which may not be necessary.
Here are some tips :
1. Before washing produce, wash your hands
The importance of washing hands to prevent the spread of Covid-19 cannot be emphasised enough. Even when you are going to rinse vegetables, you must ensure that your hands are clean. Wash them for at least 20 seconds prior to cleaning fruit and vegetable produce. It is a good idea to wash them afterwards too, as suggested by the FDA.
2. Rinse your produce well in running water
All the fruits and vegetable produce that is purchased from the market can be rinsed in running water, followed by rubbing with hands. This is all that is needed to clean a majority of vegetables. The FDA recommends, “Rinse produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.”
3. Do not use soap or any detergent
The FDA says it is a complete myth that soap, detergent or any special liquid is required to clean produce. “Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.” If damage or bruising occurs before eating or handling, it is best to cut away the damaged areas before preparing or eating.
4. Use a brush or sponge if necessary
While cleaning root vegetables like potatoes or carrots, a vegetable brush or sponge should be used to ensure all dirt is removed. “Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers,” recommends FDA.
5. Certain vegetables and fruits require extra care
Berries require extra attention during the cleaning process. Place them in a colander and rinse them under running water to remove pathogens. Similarly, lettuce and leafy greens should be placed in a bowl of cold water. FDA also suggests removing the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage, and then drying them with a paper towel for best results.