Is a quick rinse under tap water sufficient enough to remove any nasty pesticides or dirt dwelling harmful bacteria from the outside of Fruit & Vegetables?
This question has popped into my head on too many occasions over the last 6 months as I quickly rinse apples for my kids’ fruit break at school – so I decided to do a bit of research.
Here’s 10 things to consider:
- It is a good idea to wash all fruits and vegetables before use if you eat the skin. Rinsing does 2 things: it reduces our exposure to microorganisms that can make us sick, and may wash away chemical and pesticide residues.
- What you are trying to wash off is any dirt or harmful bacteria picked up during the growing, handling, transport, storage and shop process. There are many steps from paddock to plate – each step providing an opportunity to gather unwanted nasties.
- Nasty germs found in dirt don’t usually have any ill-effects on healthy people, but if certain pathogens get on the produce, and we eat them, they can make us sick. Dirt can harbour these pathogens, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonella, which are microorganisms that live in the stomachs of warm-blooded animals. Sometimes you only need to consume a small number of microorganisms to get food poisoning. Listeria is another bacteria that can cause food poisoning and is particularly dangerous to unborn babies. While it is usually found in soft cheeses, it has been associated with fruit salad.
- You are also wanting to wash off any pesticides that have been used – however these are generally oil based (to withstand rain) so using a solution like apple cider vinegar and water will help to break down the residue. The solution is made up of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. You can keep this solution in a spray bottle near your sink. After spraying, rinse thoroughly under cold water.
- Fortunately Australian grown food is low in chemical residues – and within acceptable safety limits – the Australian Total Diet Survey back this up. The same cannot be said for imported produce…
- If you want to avoid chemical residue in your food, buy organic or grow your own. However, it is still a good idea to wash before eating because of the potential for dirt and bacteria to be on the product, especially if domestic pets, wild animals or birds visit your vegie patch.
- Using a vege brush to scrub things like your potatoes is an effective measure.
- Washing your fruit & vege remains one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from illnesses and chemical contamination.
- The recommendation is to rinse your produce under running water for at least 30 seconds. You could make sure you run the water into a container that can be later poured on your lawn or plants.
- Remember to dry your produce after rinsing with clean paper towel – this will remove any lingering bacteria and help to prolong the shelf life of your food.