Health Canada

Health Canada

July 08, 2013 11:00 ET

Information Update: Safe Handling of Fresh Produce

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 8, 2013) - Health Canada would like to remind Canadians of the importance of handling fresh produce safely to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Fresh fruits and vegetables do not naturally contain bacteria, parasites or viruses that can make you sick. However, produce can become contaminated while in the field or through improper handling, storage, or transportation during or after harvest.

Canada's Food Guide recommends that Canadians eat a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. But, as with any food, it is important that fresh produce be handled and stored properly to reduce the chances of illness. It is estimated that one in eight Canadians (or four million people) get sick due to domestically acquired foodborne diseases in Canada every year.

You can minimize the risk of foodborne illness by following these safety tips:

Separate: Fresh produce can become contaminated when it comes into contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat both at the store and at home-in your refrigerator, on cutting boards and countertops.

Clean: Before preparing food, always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and hot water. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables gently under cool running water. Fruits and vegetables that are usually peeled or cut, like melons, oranges and cucumbers, also need to be washed gently under cool, running water. Scrub fruits and vegetables that have a firm surface, such as melons, potatoes and carrots.

Chill: Store fresh fruits and vegetables that need refrigeration in the refrigerator at 4ºC (40ºF) or below. All cut fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated and should not be kept at room temperature for longer than two hours.

For information on safe handling of fresh produce (including leafy greens, melons, tomatoes, fresh herbs and mushrooms) please visit:

Healthy Canadians:

- Produce Safety

For new information on foodborne illness (food poisoning) in Canada, please visit:

The Public Health Agency of Canada:

- Estimates of Food-borne Illness in Canada

For more information on food safety, please visit:

Government of Canada:

- Food Safety Portal

Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education:

- Be Food Safe Canada Campaign

Stay connected with Health Canada and receive the latest advisories and product recalls using social media tools.

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