Food Safety Tips: Produce


  • Always check “Best if Used by” dates on packaging.
  • Organic produce may not look like its iconic match, but it should not be purchased with cuts or bruises.
  • Keep meats or any items that may leak bagged separately when transporting from the store home.
  • Always avoid food that has a “not quite right” odor!
  • Shop for perishable items last and do not let them sit out long before storing them in the refrigerator.
  • Do not purchase cans or jars that have dents.


  • Wash hands in warm water with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Use a different cutting board for produce and meat. Cutting boards should be washed in hot water after use.
  • Wash produce thoroughly under cold running water before use (even if prewashed). For less-delicate produce, such as zucchini, cucumber, potatoes, etc., use a scrub brush to clean. Pat dry with a clean cloth or recycled paper towel.
  • Remove new cuts or bruises from produce with a knife.
  • Keep dishcloths clean and replace or sterilize sponges and other sink tools weekly. You can sterilize them in the dishwasher or by boiling water on the stovetop.


  • Make sure precut or bulk perishable fruit and vegetables are stored in a clean refrigerator at 40 degrees or cooler. The coldest part of the refrigerator is in the meat drawer or toward the back of a refrigerator. If you aren’t sure that your refrigerator is cool enough, check it with a refrigerator thermometer.
  • Refrigerate warm, prepared food within two hours. Large dishes should be divided into smaller portions to speed up the cooling process.