Commissaries offer safety tips for handling fresh fruits, vegetables
FORT LEE, Va. – Commissary patrons are advised to wash off raw produce before “that apple a day” one day beckons a trip to the emergency room.
“From farm to store shelf, the Defense Commissary Agency is on guard against potential foodborne illnesses that could affect our produce,” said Chris Wicker, a public health advisor for the Defense Commissary Agency’s public health and safety directorate. “However, it’s vital for our patrons to do their part in protecting themselves from harmful bacteria by thoroughly cleaning the fruits and vegetables they buy before consuming them.”
Because produce may have been grown in soil or water that contained harmful bacteria, it’s necessary for patrons to clean fruits and vegetables thoroughly to avoid contaminants that lead to foodborne illnesses, Wicker said.
The following basic food safety tips can help patrons ensure the produce they take home is safe to eat:
- Keep your produce separate from other grocery purchases from the shopping cart, the checkout process and the drive home.
- Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where produce is stored. Ensure you thoroughly clean your refrigerator.
- Don’t handle or prepare any food when you are sick.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and eating, including produce grown at home or brought from a grocery store or farmer’s market.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
- Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
- Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
- After washing, use a clean cloth towel or paper towel to dry produce. This will further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.
DeCA’s food safety page is a good source for more information about proper food handling techniques. Additional information is available at http://www.fda.gov/educationresourcelibrary, https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/prevention.html and https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/index.html.
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.