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Are fruit and vegetable washes safe and effective?

In an attempt to be safe, many people turn to washing their fruits and vegetables with special products meant especially for that purpose. While not overly expensive, government health officials say it’s not normally necessary to purchase special produce washes in order to get fruits and vegetables clean for consumption.

Since it’s obvious not all produce arrives in optimal eating condition, taking them home to scrub or soak them in a special wash has become more common. Wax is often used to protect produce from the hazards of shipping while dirt is naturally found left behind.

When not cleaned properly or enough, becoming ill from produce is a possibility, but not one high enough to require the purchase of special products, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. They acknowledge that thoroughly washing produce before eating is important. It is the best way to ensure you protect yourself from foodborne illnesses such as listeria, E.coli, and salmonella.

Even commercially harvested or organic produce products are exposed to pesticides, dirt and other contaminants that can be harmful. For this reason, it is important to wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under drinkable running water, even if you do not plan to eat the peel, since germs from the outside can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them.

However, beyond that, the FDA does not recommend washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent or commercial produce washes or other disinfecting products. The reason, they say, is since produce is porous, soaps and washes can be absorbed by fruits and vegetables, despite thorough rinsing, which can make you sick.

Leftover commercial washes can also change the flavor of your produce. For those who truly want to add a little extra washing power to their water, University Health News suggests trying white vinegar or baking soda.

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