Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Information Update – Safe Handling of Fresh Produce

July 10, 2012

OTTAWA, July 10, 2012 /CNW/ – Health Canada would like to remind
Canadians of the importance of handling fresh produce safely to reduce
the risk of foodborne illness.

Fresh fruits and vegetables do not naturally contain microorganisms
(bacteria, parasites or viruses) that can make you sick. However,
produce can become contaminated while in the field or through improper
handling, storage, or transportation during or after harvest.

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends that Canadians eat a diet rich in a variety of fruits and
vegetables. But, as with any food, it is important that fresh produce
be handled and stored properly to reduce the chances of illness. It is
estimated that there are approximately 11 million cases of foodborne
illness in Canada every year.

You can minimize the risk of foodborne illness by following these safety

Separate: Fresh produce can become contaminated when it comes into contact with
raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices. Keep fresh fruits and
vegetables separate from raw meat both at the store and at home–in your
refrigerator, on cutting boards and countertops.

Clean: Before preparing food, always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds,
using soap and hot water. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables gently under
cool running water. Fruit and vegetables that are usually peeled or
cut, like melons, oranges and cucumbers, also need to be washed gently
under cool, running water. Also, scrub fruits and vegetables that have
a firm surface, such as melons, potatoes and carrots. Do not soak
fruits and vegetables in a sink full of water. The sink can harbour
bacteria, which can be transferred to anything in it. It is not
necessary to use anything other than water to wash produce.

Chill: Store fresh fruits and vegetables that need refrigeration in the
refrigerator at 4ºC (40ºF) or below. All cut fruits and vegetables
should be refrigerated and should not be kept at room temperature for
longer than two hours.

For more information on Fresh Produce Safety please visit Health Canada’s website.

        --  Melons
        --  Tomatoes
        --  Fresh Herbs
        --  Leafy Greens
        --  Mushrooms

Government of Canada’s Food Safety Portal

Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education’s Be Food Safe Canada Campaign ( www.befoodsafe.ca )

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SOURCE Health Canada

Source: PR Newswire