Bulletin E3212
Safe Handling of Fruits and Vegetables


October 21, 2015 - Joyce McGarry

We know eating fresh fruits and vegetables will help to keep us healthy. However, it is always important to clean fresh produce with safe water, peeling root crops and removing outer leaves of leafy vegetables to reduce soil residue. To help ensure you and your family are protected from harmful substances, follow these simple handling tips to help keep your produce safe. 


Learn to check, clean, separate, cook, chill and throw away your fruits and vegetables properly. This fact sheet is based on the FightBac! steps to safer fruits and vegetables from the Partnership for Food Safety Education. 

Safe Handling of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables


• Never buy damaged or bruised fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Only buy cut fruits and vegetables, such as packaged salads and precut melons, that are refrigerated.


• Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Wash all surfaces and utensils, such as cutting boards, counter tops or knives, with hot water and soap before and after preparing fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that you will not be eating.

• While rinsing under running tap water, rub or scrub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables with a clean vegetable brush.

• Never use detergent or bleach to wash fresh fruits or vegetables since these products are not consumable.


• When shopping, separate fresh fruits and vegetables from household chemicals and raw foods, such as meat, poultry and seafood.

• Store fresh fruits and vegetables separately from raw meat, poultry or seafood in the refrigerator.

• Always wash kitchen utensils and cutting boards with hot soapy water between preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables and raw meats, poultry and seafood.


• Remove and throw away bruised or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating raw.

• Throw away any fruit or vegetable that will not be cooked if it has touched raw meat, poultry or seafood.


• Refrigerate all cut, peeled or cooked fresh fruits and vegetables within two hours of preparation.

Throw Away:

• Throw away fresh cut-up, peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables that have not been refrigerated within two hours.

Find out more about Michigan Fresh at msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh.


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