WHAT FOODS SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT BE WASHED BEFORE BEING CONSUMED
WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WASH MEAT:
Washing meat and poultry is a common thing people do before cooking it. However since any cooking temperature above 160°F kills any disease causing bacteria, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline do not recommend washing or rinsing raw meat. Some of the reasons why the USDA Meat/Poultry do not recommend washing meat before cooking:
- Some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you wash the meat.
- There are other types of bacteria that can be easily washed off and splashed on the surfaces of your kitchen. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to foodborne illnesses.
- If you do not wash your hands after washing the meat, anything you touch afterwards could be cross contaminated.
WHY YOU SHOULD WASH FRESH PRODUCE:
Other than light misting, most grocery stores do not wash their fresh produce before selling. As most fresh fruits and vegetables have pesticides on their outer layer, it is important to remove these residues before human consumption. Be careful not to use any kind of soaps in removing residue as produce skins are porous and will absorb the soap. Some tips on reducing and eliminating residues on fresh produce:
- Wash produce with large amounts of cold or warm tap water, and scrub with a brush when appropriate.
- Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage. Separate lettuce leaves and wash them individually.
- Fresh herbs and sprouts should also be rinsed before serving.
- Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. If the produce does have damages or bruised areas, be sure to cut those parts out because bacteria that causes illness can thrive in those places.
- Refrigerate any fresh-cut items such as salad or fruit for best quality and food safety.
RESOURCES: fsis.usda.gov, wsu.edu/foodsafety/food-safety