Fruits and vegetables play an important role within a balanced diet. When we eat them fresh, they provide us a wide range of nutrients necessary for maintaining a healthy body. Regardless the way you eat them, raw or cooked, their preparation and storage must comply with certain rules, especially if we use them to prepare our babies’ meals. Eating contaminated fruits or vegetables can lead to foodborne illness, also known as “food poisoning”.
Why wash the fruits and vegetables?
There are a lot of reasons why we must wash the fruits and vegetables before we eat them:
- excess dirt or dust;
- germs found in soil;
- pesticide residues, chemical treatments sprayed over the plants to keep them protected from pests;
- harmful bacteria that may be in the soil they grew and contaminated them (ex E.coli);
- Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) mostly man-made, found in various materials such as pesticides, additives or contaminants in food.
These are just the major reasons, so make sure you always wash the fruits and veggies.
How to properly wash fruits and vegetables?
The fruits and vegetables should be washed for at least 60 seconds with plenty of running tap water.
The hard-shell veggies can be washed using a special brush that can reach the less accessible areas. The softer ones can be hand-washed. After washing, drain them on paper towel.
To wash leafy vegetables, try filling a large bowl with water and swish them around – it is an effective way to remove the dirt. Then, hold the leaves under a running tap to make sure all dirt has been completely washed away.
Although many pre-cut, bagged, or packaged produce items are pre-washed and ready-to-eat (such as packed lettuce or cherry tomatoes), it is safer to wash them, too, before consuming them.
Below are some cleaning tips:
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation
- always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling fruits and vegetables;
- scrub vegetables and fruits with tough surfaces, like melons, potatoes or cucumbers, with a vegetable scrubber;
- it is not recommended to wash fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent – you can always use a natural fruit and vegetable wash;
- cut and throw away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating;
- some vegetables are always sold with some soil on them, so try to remove as much soil as possible when preparing vegetables;
- wash the fruits and vegetables even if you plan to peel them;
- wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between preparing raw meat and preparing fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked;
- when shopping, only buy the best-looking produce that will stay fresh the longest.
- wash produce before you use it, NOT before you store it, because many fruits and vegetables will rot more quickly if washed before storage.
Washing fruits and vegetables before you prepare them for your baby is mandatory.
Babies have a fragile organism, their immune system is in development, so make sure the fruits and vegetables you use to prepare their meals are safe for them to eat. Always keep in mind the best practices when it comes to cleaning produce.