Food Safety in the Time of COVID-19: Tips on handling fresh produce

In this time of the coronavirus, are fresh fruits and vegetables safe to eat?  Yes! There is no reason to assume that fresh fruits and vegetables are unsafe because there isn’t any evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted by food. And regardless of where fresh produce originates, around the corner or around the world,  fruits and vegetables are a healthy part of the diet.

We know that the COVID-19 virus doesn’t appear to last long on organic surfaces like the outside of fruits and vegetables, and it doesn’t appear that we can get sick from ‘eating’ the virus. But there are some general food safety steps that we always recommend when eating or preparing fresh fruits and vegetables. Follow these steps:

  • Start by washing your hands with soap and water. [For more information, check out the earlier blog post.]
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables with clean running water, do not use soap or bleach. Scrub the surfaces of melons, apples or other firm items.
  • Drain and dry with a paper towel.  Enjoy!

Always rinse fresh fruits and vegetables before eating, or before preparing (this includes before peeling).

If you want an added safety step, dip rinsed fruits and vegetables in a vinegar solution of 2 cups vinegar + 2 cups water, allow to stand for 1 minute, then rinse again with clean water and dry with a paper towel. Research has shown that this vinegar rinse will help remove harmful bacteria like Salmonella. Whether the vinegar rinse will destroy the coronavirus we don’t yet know, but we do know that it won’t hurt.

A new video from the Partnership for Food Safety Education on washing fresh produce is available for you to share with consumers. And the Centers for Disease Control has helpful produce safety information in English and en Español.

What about canned or frozen fruits and vegetables? Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are safe and healthy choices that can add variety to your meals and provide options when fresh items are not available. For information on adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, consider

Remember to stay well and food-safe. Barb