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Publication #FCS8740

Fresh Cut Produce: Safe Handling Practices for Consumers1

Amy Simonne2

A variety of fruits and vegetables should be part of your healthy diet. However, several foodborne illnesses have been traced to fresh produce. Although fresh cut produce are washed and sanitized before marketing, they are not germ free. You can take steps to reduce your own risk of foodborne illness from fresh produce.

Where You Shop:

Fresh cut produce needs to be refrigerated or surrounded by ice to control growth of microbes. Only purchase produce that is displayed properly in the store.

Inspect each package carefully for any sign of tampering. If in doubt, ask the produce manager for information.

At Home:

Refrigerate fresh cut produce promptly.

Leftover fresh cut produce should be discarded after two hours at room temperature.

Avoid touching fresh cut produce with your bare hand, especially if it will be served raw. Use a spoon or fork.

During Preparation:

Wash hands with hot soapy water before and after:

  • handling fresh produce

  • handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood

  • using the bathroom

  • changing diapers

  • handling pets

Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops often. Use hot soapy water and rinse well. Sanitize them after contact with fresh produce, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood (see below).

Sanitize kitchen sink frequently to avoid a build up of microbes.

Don't cross contaminate! Use clean cutting boards and utensils for fresh produce.

If you can, use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Do not consume ice that has come in contact with fresh produce or other raw products.

Use a cooler with ice or ice gel packs when you take perishable foods outdoors. This includes cut fresh fruits and vegetables.

To sanitize cutting boards, dishes, utensils:

Table 1. 

Mix one teaspoon chlorine bleach in one quart water.

Pour the mixture onto all surfaces or submerge appropriate items into the above solution and let sit at least one minute.

Rinse surfaces well with hot running water.

Counter tops can be sanitized by using the above solution mix, sanitizing sprays or wipes as an additional safety measure. Following these steps will help reduce your risk of foodborne illness from fresh cut produce.

For more information:

Visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website at: http://www.fda.gov or call FDA Consumer Inquiries at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (a toll-free number).

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS8740, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date October 2002. Revised March 2009. Reviewed March 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Amy Simonne, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, I FAS, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.