The Regional Municipality Of York

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Wash Your Fruits and Vegetables

Whether grown in your garden, or bought at a market, fruits and vegetables are good sources of nutrients. However, if not washed thoroughly, these nutritious foods can make you sick.  This can happen in the following ways:

  • Fruits and vegetables can be exposed to harmful bacteria from contact with wild or domestic animals, during or after harvest, improperly composted manure, contaminated water or transporting 
  • Most fruits and vegetables receive minimal processing and are often eaten raw which can be a serious risk. Cutting, slicing, or peeling unwashed produce can allow even more bacteria to grow

By making sure fruits and vegetables are properly handled, washed, prepared and stored, you can enjoy healthy food while preventing food-borne illness for yourself and family.

How to wash

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds before and after handling food 
  • Wash all cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water
  • Wash fruits and vegetables under cool running tap water
  • Fruits and vegetables with skins and rinds, such as carrots and melons, should be washed with your hands or a scrub brush before peeling to prevent bacteria from contaminating the food when peeled or sliced
  • Pat dry using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels

What about the use of a commercial or homemade wash?

You can use running water or a commercial or homemade wash. The important tip to remember is to wash before you eat.

When grocery shopping

  • If buying leafy greens, looks for leaves that are crisp. Avoid wilted or brown leaves
  • Keep fruits and vegetables in your shopping cart separate from raw meat, seafood and poultry to prevent cross-contamination.

When storing

Refrigerating perishable fruits and vegetables at 4°C (40°F) or lower helps to reduce the growth of bacteria. This also applies to any pre-cut or peeled fruits and vegetables that are not eaten immediately. Bagged or pre-washed leafy greens should be refrigerated and used by the best before date.

Common symptoms of food-borne illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache and fever.  If you think you may be experiencing a food-borne illness, seek medical attention.



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