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Fresh fruit and vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables are an important and necessary part of a healthy and nutritious diet. They provide many vitamins and minerals to help keep your body healthy.

Almost any type of food can present a risk if it becomes contaminated or is not handled correctly.

Fresh fruit and vegetables have sometimes been responsible for a food poisoning outbreaks. Cases of fruit and vegetables overseas have become contaminated during growth and handling with potentially dangerous E. coli and Salmonella, while fresh cut produce can become contaminated during the processing.

Shopping tips

  • When shopping for fresh produce, avoid items that are bruised, damaged, mouldy, slimy or show signs of damage from insects. Bruises and cuts may allow bacteria to enter and may also cause faster spoiling 
  • If good quality fruit and vegetables are not available, it may be better to select canned or frozen stock
  • When buying pre-cut fresh fruit and vegetables, avoid damaged items and open or torn packages
  • Make sure pre-cut items are properly refrigerated or surrounded by ice when displayed
  • Don't eat food past a use-by date
  • Always keep fruit and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood. Blood and juice from raw foods could contaminate fruit and vegetables with bacteria.

Storage

  • Fresh produce should be put in the fridge as soon as possible after peeling or cutting
  • Don't eat cut produce if it's been left out of the fridge for 2 hours or more
  • Prevent fruit and vegetables from coming into contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Store fruit and vegetables in the crisper or on a shelf above these foods so there is no risk of blood and juice dripping onto fresh produce.

Most fruit and vegetables do not require refrigeration:

  • bananas, garlic, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, swedes and sweet potatoes.

These vegetables and fruit can be kept at room temperature until ripe and provided the skin is not broken, and then should be refrigerated:

  • apricots, avocados, kiwifruit, mangoes, melons, nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes.

Prepare & handle correctly 

  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly before starting to prepare any food
  • Wash all fruit and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating
  • Scrub fruit and vegetables with hard surfaces (such as rockmelons, oranges, potatoes and carrots) with a clean produce brush. Cut away bruised or damaged areas before eating
  • Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruit and vegetables as bacteria can grow in these areas. Clean the knife when finished to avoid contaminating other food.
  • Use clean and dry cutting boards and utensils when handling fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Separate raw and cooked food and use different cutting boards and knifes for both
  • Keep benches, kitchen equipment and tableware clean and dry. Clean after contact with fresh produce.
  • Pre-cut bagged produce such as lettuce which state on the packaging that they are pre-washed can be used without further washing but can be washed as an added precaution.