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Do I need to take additional steps to disinfect fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that spreads COVID-19 spreads through food. Because of this low likelihood of transmission via food such as fruits and vegetables, CDC recommends the following ways to handle fresh produce during COVID-19:

  • Do NOT wash fruits, vegetables, and other fresh produce with soap, bleach, sanitizer, alcohol, disinfectant or any other chemical.
  • Gently rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under cold, running tap water.
  • Scrub uncut firm produce (e.g., potatoes, cucumbers, melons) with a clean brush, even if you don’t plan to eat the peel.
  • Salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon juice, and lime juice have not been shown to be effective at removing germs on produce.

During COVID-19 and even in ordinary times, it is always important to wash fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, as CDC notes that “sometimes raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs that can make you and your family sick, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.”

Because CDC estimates that germs on fresh produce cause a large percentage of U.S. foodborne illnesses, it is better to consume produce when it is cooked; the next safest is when it is washed. This is how you can prevent getting sick from food.

Source: FDA, CDC

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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