The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone thinking more about how clean—or how dirty—their everyday items are. You know you should be washing your hands and probably cleaning your phone more often, but what about your fruits and vegetables? Here’s what we know about produce and the coronavirus.
Can I get the coronavirus from my produce?
According to the CDC, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets,” the CDC says. “Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety.”
Although it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. And although the coronavirus may be able to live on a piece of produce for a short time, there is a low risk of spread from food products that are shipped over a period of days or week at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.
Should I still wash my produce?
Although you are very unlikely to contract COVID-19 from your fruits and vegetables, it’s still important to wash all your produce to help prevent foodborne illness. You don’t need any special wash or product to clean your produce—just cold running water. A scrub brush can also help with firm vegetables, while a bowl or wash basin is helpful for cleaning tender greens.
Here are some tips from the FDA and CDC about cleaning your produce.
- Wash your hands. Before you handle raw produce, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. You should also do this before eating after you’re done preparing your food.
- Clean before you peel. Even if you’re going to be peeling a fruit or vegetable, make sure to wash it. Bacteria on the peel can be transferred to the inside of the produce while peeling or chopping.
- Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a special wash to clean your fruits and vegetables, just plain running water. You can use a stiff brush to help clean root vegetables like potatoes, or fill a bowl with water to swish around more delicate produce like greens and berries.
- Dry everything when you’re done. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry produce and further reduce bacteria that may be present.
Clean fruits and vegetables will have you feeling better about your health all year long—whether you’re stuck inside or not. We’ve also tested devices that claim to extend the shelf life of produce in the fridge that you may want to investigate if you’re worried about food spoilage.
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