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The “know-why and how” of cleaning and storing vegetables and fruits

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. But if they are not sanitized properly, they increase the risk of food-borne disorders. They go from farm-to-table to reach you. However, who knows what all dirt they go through before reaching you.

Even if you were aware of the importance of sanitizing – with the spread of COVID -19 – doing it the right way is more important than ever.

So, is a quick rinse sufficient? Or should you use the sanitization products available in the market to clean your veggies and fruits?

Here is the know-how of cleaning and storing them. Let’s understand.

Why Is There A Need to Sanitize Your Fruits and Vegetables?

While this may sound obvious, it is important to understand that the reason is more than hygiene. Almost 3–5 billion cases and nearly 1.8 million deaths annually occur globally due to contaminated food and water.

Contaminants in the Food

So, let us understand what all impurities may be present.

Vegetables and fruits go through quite a journey before they land in your kitchen drawers. To begin with, they are exposed to pesticides to keep them safe from insects and pests. The residue of these chemicals may still be present.

Fruits and vegetables may also have crop contaminants such as aflatoxins, patulin, and ochratoxin. These toxins are harmful to health. Besides, Bee wax (white and yellow), or carnauba shellac wax, or shellac wax may be used to improve the shine of the vegetables and fruits.

Although the use of carbide gas is not permissible for ripening, there is no way to ensure that. Some fruits and vegetables may also have harmful metals present.

Handling of the Food

Besides the impurities present in the food items, improper handling may also result in their contamination. For instance, washing them in dirty water or handling them with dirty hands may also pollute them.

COVID-19 is an additional threat along with other things that may be lurking on your vegetables and fruits. The germs of people who may have touched the food items before you purchased them can be one of the causes of contamination. Furthermore, an increase in cases of COVID-19 in fruits and vegetable vendors is also a concern.

While there may be no evidence of COVID-19 transmission through fruits and vegetables, according to The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), sanitizing them will help you with peace of mind than anything else.

How to Sanitize Vegetables and Fruits

Give your vegetables and fruits a warm welcome to avoid any kind of infection. It is a lot easier than you may think.

To start with, “If you don’t want to contaminate the meat (and all other food items), keep your kitchen counters neat.”

  • Wash your hands before sanitizing your food items. Failing to do so may result in transferring germs from your hands to the produce.

  • Use just cold water to wash them. Rinse them for 30 seconds.

  • There is no need for soap or any special rinses.

  • While washing cabbage or other green leafy vegetables, it is recommended to remove their outer covering before rinsing them.

  • Get rid of damaged or bruised spots.

  • For hard items such as apples and carrots, wash them in cold water with a food brush.

  • For softer items such as berries, use just your hands to rinse them.

  • If you are not satisfied with just water, you can wash them in a baking soda bath.

  • Rinse can be rinsed by swishing them in a bowl of cool water or under running water. Dry them with paper towels once rinsed.


  • A simple technique to store, “If you are going to eat it later, keep it in the refrigerator.” Products that require refrigeration store them between 35-40°F.

  • You can store your fresh produce in perforated plastic bags or cloth produce bags. This will allow the air to circulate through them.

Final Thoughts

Overthinking what you may be bringing with your produce – especially with the rising COVID-19 pandemic – is totally understandable. But sanitizing your foods and vegetables is much easier than worrying about it. Follow the mentioned tips and take care of you and your family members.

Disclaimer: Indian Health Bureau does not claim any responsibility for the information contained in this article. The information may not hold good for everyone. The post is for general awareness only and should not be construed as a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Please consult your doctor to know what is good for you.



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