With the recent news of E. coli warnings, many grocery stores have pulled romaine lettuce, as well as lettuce and cauliflower off their shelves. Food safety comes down to how we handle our food, and washing it is a big part of it.
Health Canada noted melons, for example, a fruit that doesn’t have edible skin, should still be washed to avoid food poisoning. “While melons do not naturally contain bacteria that can make you sick, their outer skin or rind can become contaminated because melons are grown close to the ground,” the site explained.
Melons can be contaminated in the soil, contaminated water or improperly composted manure. Contamination by bacteria can also happen during handling, sorting or harvesting.
Like avocados, the same rules of washing before eating should apply to other fruits with inedible peels like citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), tropical fruits (banana and pineapples) and squashes.
Experts recommended washing all fresh fruit and veggies with cool tap water before eating — there’s no need to use soap or produce wash. And when you are washing, rub the skin or use a produce brush.
Even pre-cut fruits and vegetables can raise the risk of a variety of illnesses like salmonella, listeria and E. coli
“The problem with processed produce is that much like when you get a scratch on your skin, once it’s been cut, it loses a layer of protection and is exposed to [possible contamination],” Keith Warriner, a professor of food science at the University of Guelph, previously told Global News.
“Melons, in particular, are an extreme example because their flesh is the best growth medium for salmonella.”
While there is a potential risk for listeria or other bacteria when it comes to handling fruits and vegetables (even if the risk isn’t high), experts urge consumers to always be safe than sorry.