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For Release:  Sept. 30, 2011 – Larry Weatherford, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601

Simple Steps Make Fresh Produce the Healthy Choice for Oklahomans

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a staple of a well-balanced diet and key to creating a healthy Oklahoma.  Like any food product, it is important to be careful handling or preparing produce. The following are simple steps that can make consuming produce safer.

Buying Tips

  • Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting fresh-cut produce - such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens - choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products.

Storage Tips

  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.   
  • Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.

Preparation Tips

  • Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
  • All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
  • Many precut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If the package indicates that the contents have been pre-washed, you can use the produce without further washing.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.

For more information visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health website at www.health.ok.gov  or www.foodsafety.gov.

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