Many who eat produce on a regular basis have done this without giving it a second thought— before eating or cutting up some fruits or vegetables, you give it a rinse under the kitchen faucet. But you may wonder if doing this actually does anything. After all, how can a little water do much to clean produce?
According to Men's Health, washing produce may be worth the extra few seconds.
Experts have revealed that rinsing produce does indeed wash any physical contaminants that have the potential to make consumers sick. This includes dirt, pebbles, and even insects that could be trapped in produce. If not washed at all, such debris can be consumed unwittingly and make the consumer violently ill. In addition, washing produce cleans bacteria that may have been transferred by a human being. So many individuals have handled produce prior to the consumer buying it — from farmers, to grocery store employees, to the many more consumers that may have handled it before you. So, washing produce will wash away any germs that might have been passed on by someone who handled it before you.
The FDA estimates that about 48 million Americans become ill as a result of consuming food that had bacteria in it. While meat has been a culprit, there has been an uptick of people getting sick after eating unwashed produce. According to the FDA, produce can be contaminated by nature, animals, and humans handling it during production or packaging. This is why they continue to push the importance of washing produce before using it in your meals.
Admittedly, experts say that washing produce cannot destroy all the bacteria that may be trapped inside. This is especially true if the bacteria has attached itself well to the item, or if a biofilm (a collection of microorganisms) has grown. Also, some food-borne illnesses are next to impossible to get rid of, such as e. Coli. If your produce has bruises or cracks, bacteria can get trapped inside, making the idea of rinsing off the item seem silly. That's because that bacteria is almost impossible to clean away.
The bottom line, experts conclude, is that while washing produce won't get rid of all bacteria, it will still get rid of a majority of it. As a result, it will help reduce your likelihood of contracting a foodborne illness. This means that continuing to wash produce prior to consumption is your best bet for staying healthy.