Food Washing Guide: What Foods Need to Be Washed?
Do you wash your groceries? You might be washing items you shouldn’t and forgetting some very important ones!
Here is a quick guide on your food washing, scrubbing, rinsing, and spraying. Because honestly, you don’t know who’s been playing with your melons.
Do I have to wash cantaloupe?
If recent E. coli and salmonella scares were not answer enough, we say YES! Bugs love to hide in the crevices of its textured skin and then creep in as your knife slices into its juicy fruit. Scrub the whole melon with a vegetable brush under running water or after you’ve sprayed it with a fruit and vegetable cleaner. Same goes with other textured fruits such as avocado, kiwi, and pineapple.
Should I wash chicken?
No. The USDA actually warns against this because the bacteria can be easily spread to other foods and all over your sink! I like to first lay it out on a paper towel and spray it with a poultry cleaner; then rinse. Make sure you cook your chicken thoroughly (no pink spots) to a safe 165F. (Make sure you wash your thermometer every time you test the temperature.)
Should I clean fish?
Fish can carry bacteria and other microorganisms that can make you sick (even if it has been previously frozen). Take the fish out of the packaging, rinse well, and pat dry with a paper towel. If you are pregnant or want to be extra careful, use a seafood spray, rinse, and dry.
Do I have to wash pre-washed lettuce?
No. You actually increase the risk of contaminating it. Pre-washed lettuce has already been washed in huge commercial tanks with sanitizing agents. Head lettuce should be taken apart, soaked in a vegetable wash, rinsed, and spinned.
Should I wash organic food?
Yes! Just because something is organic and is not treated with pesticides does not mean it doesn’t carry bacteria, dirt, micro-bugs, and other pathogens (animal poop anyone?). Scrub potatoes with a vegetable wash under running water, and use a fruit and vegetable wash for everything else.
Should I wash canned beans?
Although canned beans have already been washed prior to cooking, they are better for you if you do. Most canned beans are high in sodium. By rinsing them in a strainer, you’ll be able to remove nearly 50% of the sodium content. The thick liquid is not going to make your dish taste better; it’s unflavored, starchy, and full of salt.
Do I have to wash herbs?
Yes!—even if they come from your garden. Leaf herbs such as parsley and basil can have microorganisms under their leaves and invisible to the eye. Plus, you don’t want to taste the gritty dirt it often comes with! To wash these, place the sprigs in a strainer and rinse thoroughly; or a quick spray with a vegetable cleaner is recommended, then rinse. Pat dry with a paper towel, or send them for a spin in a salad spinner.
You might be thinking: I’ve never washed my fruits, vegetables, seafood, and poultry before, and I’ve never gotten sick. We say: You might not have, but many people have. In 2011, the CDC estimates that one in six Americans (or 48 million people) will get sick, 128,000 will be hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Why risk it?