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An Expert Guide to Washing and Prepping Produce


*This post is a guest blog provided by the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF). 

While there are substantial amounts of peer-reviewed studies which show the safety of organic and conventional produce, consumers who may still be concerned about residues can follow the advice of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about washing fruits and vegetables.   According to the FDA, you can reduce and often eliminate any residues that may be present by washing organic and conventional fresh produce.

But what do experts advise in terms of how to properly wash and prep produce?  There is a lot of misinformation about washing, including recommendations that are an unnecessary expense, may diminish produce quality or possibly be a safety issue.

Here are steps on how to safely and effectively wash and handle fruits and veggies based upon FDA recommendations:

  • When preparing any fresh fruits or vegetables, always begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, your sink and countertops with soap and hot water between preparing raw meat, poultry, and seafood and preparing produce.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating.
  • Remove and discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables, like lettuce and cabbage.
  • Wash all organic and conventional produce thoroughly under running tap water before preparing and/or eating, including produce grown at home, bought at a farmers’ market or purchased from a grocery store. Washing under running tap water will help remove dirt, bacteria and any residues that may be present.
  • Using produce washes, baking soda, vinegar is not necessary and not worth the added expense. Running tap water is the most effective way to wash fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Even if you do not plan to eat the skin, it is still important to wash produce first so dirt and bacteria are not transferred from the surface when peeling or cutting produce.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.

Just Running Tap Water, No Soap or Detergents:  DO NOT use hand soap, detergents or household cleaning wipes to sanitize fresh produce. Those soaps and detergents are designed for washing hands, washing dishes or cleaning surfaces. They have not been approved for use on foods.

Remember, nutrition professionals and health experts advise consumers eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to promote better health, improve physical and mental health and increase lifespan. Choose organic and conventional produce – both are safe and can be eaten with confidence. Just wash and enjoy.

And don’t let any one or any group discourage you from eating the fruits and vegetables you love.

For quick reference, visit our “Just Wash It” section at

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