Washing produce is something you’ve been doing because your parents taught you, without giving it another thought.
But does it really do anything for your health?
Fortunately, you’re not wasting your time or tap water. Produce is a common carrier of norovirus – a foodborne viral infection that causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
There’s no indicator food has been contaminated by norovirus before it hits your plate, so cleaning with tap water can protect you from infection. According to USA Today, rinsing produce is effective enough to remove 90 percent of the pathogens left on it by the growing, harvesting, and shipping process. And of course, it’s the best to get rid of any leftover dirt or soil on your produce.
But remember: while washing produce is an improvement over eating them straight from the produce section, it isn’t a surefire guarantee you’ll be protected from food poisoning. Water doesn’t wash everything away, and even the most thorough of rinses won’t eliminate fatal bacteria like E. coli.
If you’re preparing a pile of veggies for dinner, the best way to make them as safe as possible to eat is to rinse them in cold water, and then rub them in a bowl of water. Start with the cleanest items and move to the produce that’s more soiled. Finally, give everything one last thorough rinse before moving to the cutting board or pot!
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