The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Washing Berries

Washing Berries

Shoppers and Trends

June 28, 2007

Washing Berries
Dear Phil,

Customers often ask us to wash their berries before they purchase them. What is the rule of thumb on this practice?

Thanks, Barbara

Dear Barbara,

Fresh produce falls into the higher risk category for food safety, since much of it is consumed raw. Before fruit and veggies arrive at the store, they have been fertilized, pulled from the soil, handled by humans and likely visited by insects. So yes, washing produce is a good idea, and I highly recommend doing so.

However, produce should not be washed until right before consumption. Washing them at the store will only make them soggy. Once home, tell customers to rinse their berries with water, and pat them dry with a paper towel. I also suggest rinsing the peel of a banana or the outer skin of a cantaloupe to further minimize risk. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it.

Sincerely, Phil