Should You Wash Ready-to-Eat Produce?

The Short Answer from a registered dietitian

Should You Wash Ready-to-Eat Produce?

Q: Should you wash ‘ready-to-eat’ produce?

A: No, you do not need to wash ready-to-eat produce. In fact, rewashing can increase your risk of getting sick. Your produce may become contaminated with bacteria from your sink, countertop, cutting boards or other kitchen surfaces.

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However, you should always wash produce that does not come prewashed before eating it. This is true even for fruits and vegetables that have a rind you plan to peel (think watermelon or cucumber). Otherwise, you could spread bacteria and other contaminants when you slice the fruit or vegetable.

Here are some washing tips:

  • Use a brush and water to scrub fruits with a hard rind like watermelon, honeydew and other melons.
  • Wash delicate fruits like berries under fast-running water. Friction from the water helps remove bacteria and pesticides.
  • Try a produce wash, although they can be expensive. A cheap and effective alternative is salt water. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt with ½ cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the vegetables, rub, and rinse well under water. One study comparing tap water, diluted vinegar, produce spray and salt water found the salt water was best at removing pesticides.

—Registered dietitian April Verdi, RD, LD

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