There’s a certain buzz that starts to develop as the weather warms, and we’re not only talking about the bees and flies. You start seeing neighbors working in their yards, people walking their dogs, jogging, and yes, planting their gardens. Farmers markets start to pop up and there’s just an overall excitement in the air. That said, chances are you’ll still purchase some of your produce at the grocery store and, as 2018 taught us, that can be risky. From tainted lettuce to the disappearance of sprouts on sandwiches, produce is an important part of food safety.
In 2015, the FDA enacted The Produce Safety Rule which federally regulated standards for production, harvest, and handling of fruits and veggies in an effort to prevent contamination that causes foodborne illness. This rule targets worker health, hygiene, and training, water standards, and equipment, tool, and building sanitation.
In spite of this rule, people still get sick from produce so it’s important to practice your own produce safety. Try to choose items that aren’t damaged or bruised and be sure to keep produce separate from raw meat and poultry. When choosing fresh-cut produce choose items that are stored properly in coolers or surrounded by ice.
Once home, make sure you’re washing the produce and countertops you’re using to prep them clean. Keep all produce, precut or otherwise, refrigerated at temperature of 40 degrees or lower.