To Wash or not to Wash: Raw Meats vs Raw Produce


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According to the current food safety guidelines of the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines for all Americans, FACSs should not wash raw meats and poultry before cooking as this will increase the chances of cross-contamination.

Should you wash raw meats before cooking at home?

The answer is No. When FACSs purchase raw meats and poultry from the grocery store, they do not need to wash the raw meats before cooking. Research studies have shown that washing raw meats may reduce numbers of bacteria. However, in a home setting, the washing process increases the chances of cross-contamination of disease causing bacteria from raw meats/raw poultry to other ready-to-eat foods and food contact surfaces in the kitchen. It is very important that FACSs take special care to avoid cross-contamination when handling raw meats and poultry at home.

Do you need to wash raw produce before eating or cooking?

The answer is Yes. You should always wash your fresh produce before consuming or cooking at home. Produce needs to be washed, scrubbed, and peeled before being eaten or cooked. Because produce is made up of a variety of plant parts, specific handling techniques for each produce are different. Wash produce under cold running water, with rubbing and brushing where necessary.

Do you need to wash ready-to-eat fresh cut produce before cooking or eating?

The answer can be "Yes" or "No" depending on the situation.

No. Ready-to-eat, pre-washed, bagged produce can be used without further washing, if kept refrigerated and does not exceed the "use ´┐Żby" date. Follow these safe food handling practices.
  • Refrigerate the product after purchase;
  • Use only clean hands, utensils, or dishes in preparing the product; and
  • Discard the product when the "use-by" date has expired.

Yes: If you desire to wash the ready-to-eat fresh cut produce again. If so, the produce should always be washed under running water.

Yes: If the pre-cut or pre-washed produce are sold in open bags or containers.

Source: Research News You Can Use