Food Safety for Fresh Produce

It’s gardening season, and fresh fruits and vegetables are coming available at roadside stands and farmers markets.  Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, Vitamins A & C, folate, and potassium.  Adults need two cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day, and a variety of colors will help you get the most nutrition.

These tips to select and store your fresh produce will help you keep your produce fresh and safe:

  1. Avoid produce with bruises, mold, or cuts that can result in poor quality or contamination by bacteria.
  2. Store these items at room temperature in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place out of direct sunlight: bananas, melons, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
  3. Allow these items to ripen on the counter, then store in the refrigerator: avocados, kiwi, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums.
  4. Keep fruits and vegetables separate in the refrigerator. Many fruits like bananas and apples produce a ripening hormone called ethylene.  If stored together, the ethylene released by fruit will shorten the life of your vegetables.
  5. Store fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, or seafood in the refrigerator. Make sure the juices don’t drip on your produce.
  6. Do not wash produce until you are ready to use it. Fruits and vegetables have a natural coating that helps to keep moisture and freshness.  If you wash produce before storing it, you will remove the natural coating and cause the produce to spoil faster.
  7. Wash all produce with cool, running water, even if you plan to remove the peel. This removes dirt and reduces the exposure of germs that could cause a foodborne illness.  Do not use soap or detergent to wash produce.

The Bosque Farmers Market will open on Saturday, May 6, for the 2017 season.  This year, the market will be held at the Meridian Park near Bosque Bottoms.  Be sure to stop by and support our local growers!

The Bosque County AgriLife Extension Office is hosting a Food Handlers Course on Monday, May 8.  The course will be held at the Meridian Civic Center from 9-11am.  During the two-hour course, participants will learn food safety practices such as personal hygiene, cross contamination, and time and temperature control.  Following completion of the course, participants will receive a Food Handler’s Certificate that is good for two years and valid anywhere in the State of Texas.

To register for the course, contact the Extension Office at 254-435-2331 or visit our website at https://bosque.agrilife.org/.  The cost is $20 per person.  The class is taught in English but Spanish handouts are available, if requested in advance.  For more information, contact Kate Whitney at the Extension Office or by email at klwhitney@ag.tamu.edu.

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