A Reminder From COVID-19: Clean Your Produce

By Caroline Betik – June 1, 2020

Just like washing your hands, make sure you’re cleaning your fruits and veggies, too.

If there is anything good that has come out of coronavirus, it is that we have all been reminded of healthy habits we should carry on past the pandemic. Washing our hands frequently, sneezing and coughing into our elbows and simply being more mindful about how our actions can affect other people are a few examples.

With the uncertainty of how the virus could spread, many questions circulated around whether or not the virus could be transmitted by groceries. The CDC reports that coronavirus is generally thought to be spread from person-to-person respiration, and there is no evidence to support the transmission of coronavirus through food products. However, washing produce does help remove harmful bacteria and dirt or chemicals which may be on the surface of fruits and vegetables.

While it is not necessary to take extra precautions in caring for your groceries because of the coronavirus, at the very least, this season has given us a reminder to practice caring for our fresh foods. To help you practice the healthiest ways to care for fruits and vegetables, we have compiled a few reminders in order to ensure they are safe to eat.

At the Store

To prevent the spread of germs, do your best to only touch what you are going to purchase. While it can be tempting to shuffle fruits and vegetables around to find the best quality products, spend a little longer looking before touching them, and put loose fruit and vegetables in produce bags when shopping to protect them from being damaged or gathering more germs. If you want to be more eco-friendly, try out some mesh, reusable bags to bring from home. Additionally, try to remember shopping etiquette when buying produce, including washing your hands before entering the store.

Practicing these things will help minimize the amount of germs on food and leave yourself and other shoppers around you feeling more at ease knowing your food is touched by clean hands.

At Home

There is no need to use cleaning products on produce. In fact, using dish soap or disinfectant can do you more harm than good if ingested. In order to clean your food, all you need is water.

After washing your hands, handle your produce by running them under cold water, and rub around them for the same time length that you wash your hands (about 20 seconds). Always rinse before you cut or peel to ensure any dirt and bacteria are not transferred from the knife into the food.

It is recommended to wash produce right before you eat it rather than as soon as you get home from the store. This is because extra water can cause them to go bad quicker. Because the moisture encourages bacteria growth, if you feel the need to wash produce as soon as you get home, only give it a short rinse and then dry it immediately with a clean towel or napkin.

Consider removing berries and other items from their packaging after you get home, and place them in a different container similar to the one you bought them in. When you are ready to eat, use a colander and running water to wash your food. Place berries or other large quantities of small items in the colander and dip it into a bowl of water. This allows for an even spread of water.

Fruits and vegetables that have a rougher outside layer may be harder to clean. In order to get between all the different textures, consider investing in a vegetable brush. Use this to gently scrub melons and vegetables. A toothbrush can also work for this purpose.


After the produce is washed, use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry your products. When cooking, ensure your cooking space is clean and free of contaminants which could end up on your food.

How do you know?

How do you know when your food is properly cleaned? Like washing your hands, there is not any real sign to know when your produce is clean. However, according to experts, a good rinse is all that’s needed for food to be considered safe to eat.

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