Washing Produce – more than just a spray under the faucet!!

People are starting to eat more salads and fresh produce. Cooked foods have holding and cooking temps to protect those foods, but what about greens and produce that are in salads? Proper washing is a key element in safer salads.

The  illnesses that can be caused by unwashed or improperly washed produce include Salmonella, E.Coli (it is not just hamburger!) Listeria. Hepatitis A, and Shigella. Here in Hawaii, we also have to watch out for Rat Lungworm Parasite.

The 1st step as always is to buy quality produce. Order from reputable suppliers, make sure they are delivered in refrigerated trucks, checked for your standards, and properly stored.

Start with a clean and sanitized work area with washed and gloved hands, fill a sink with cold water, let the produce soak for a minute or two. Lettuce and other greens should be spread open for any soil that is between the leaves to be loosened. Stir the foods around to loosen soils. During this process, the foods should be inspected for dirt and bugs. This process should be done BEFORE cutting the foods. This way, any dirt and bacteria that are on the exterior of the food are not spread to the inside of the vegetable or fruit. Take out the foods from the sink, and you maybe amazed at how much dirt is left in the water.

An old trick I learned when cleaning the dirt/fertilizer off 20-pound boxes of white mushrooms – dissolve a box or cornstarch in a sink of water, then dump in the mushrooms, and swish around in the sink. Let stand a few minutes, then lift out the clean mushrooms. The cornstarch acts like sand and scrubs off the dirt that stays in the sink!! Try it

There are commercial Antibacterial Washes that claim to kill 99% of the bacteria. These are a good idea, and are usually mounted at the vegetable prep sink. The process is the same, and there is that extra protection of the chemical wash that is dispensed in the proper amount.

Bleach used to be used in vegetable washes, but it is NOT recommended by the FDA nor me. It is too easy to have an incorrect concentration. Too little does not work, too much may leave a dangerous residue. Some guests can even complain about a bleachy taste.

A somewhat new technology that is green and chemical free is using Ozonated Water. The machinery adds Ozone, and soaking produce in this Ozonated water reduce pathogenic bacteria to safe levels, but there are no chemicals involved. The machinery can range from a system installed into the plumbing, to smaller portable units. I have even heard of this ozonated water used to clean surfaces and floors.

No mater what you use to wash your produce, they should be washed before cutting, and cut fruits and vegetables do need to be properly refrigerated. Don’t forget about labeling and dating the different foods!!



To learn more detail about Food Safety procedures, or to set up an independent discounted audit of your facility, please contact Peter Bellisario at peter@peterbfoodsafety.com  or (808) 491-7766. Check out my website –  www.PeterBFoodsafety.com




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