Magazine article FDA Consumer

Safe Handling of Fruits & Vegetables

Magazine article FDA Consumer

Safe Handling of Fruits & Vegetables

Article excerpt

E. Coli in fresh apple cider. Salmonella in melons. Shigella in tossed salad.

These aren't dishes you'd want to order from a menu. They're descriptions of several causes of food-borne illness reported in recent years. The bacteria Escherichia cold 0157:H7, Salmonella and Shigella in these fruits and vegetables were the culprits.

Although not commonly associated with food poisoning, fruits and vegetables can harbor disease-causing bacteria. Their growth environment, such as soil, is a rich source of microbes. Poor agricultural practices--such as irrigation with unsanitary water--also may introduce bacteria. Poor storage and transportation practices can result in contamination, too, as can poor food handling by grocers, restaurants and consumers in the home.

FDA regulates certain production practices aimed at reducing bacterial contamination. For example, FDA bars the use of animal fertilizers and allows only potable water for irrigation. These regulations apply to foreign producers that sell fruit and vegetables in this country and to domestic producers that market their products across state lines.

Industry practices, such as rinsing fresh fruits and vegetables with chlorinated water and transporting them in refrigerated cars, help reduce the risk further. Restaurants and grocers also have certain standards to follow, based on their local food safety laws. These laws are often based on FDA's model food code for food establishments.

But, just as with other foods, safe handling of fruits and vegetables doesn't end there. …

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