Do we really have to wash fruit and vegetables?

Do we really have to wash fruit and vegetables?

Further to Chris's must see post of WebMD slide shows on food poisoning dangers and 10 public hotspots for germs:

here is another essential article you should read for your safety by Senaka Ranadheera, Early Career Research Fellow, Advanced Food Systems Research Unit, College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University.

"The ingestion of very small numbers of dangerous bugs may not be harmful as our immune system can fight them off. But problems begin when the body’s defences fail, causing these “bad bugs” to multiply and spread throughout the body."

Even pre-washed produce may not be safe!

"...infiltration of pathogens into cracks, crevices, and between the cells of fruits and vegetables has been shown to be possible.

Once positioned in these niches, pathogens may survive and multiply by the time the infected produce is consumed. Therefore pre-washed produce may not be 100% safe. Peeling can help to get rid of bugs on the surface, but it also risks cross-contaminating the inner part of the product."

Read on for what to do to keep yourself safe:


Photo: Oleanders are hardy plants that stay a refreshing green in our harsh summers and have attractive flowers (image). Unfortunately all parts of the "It's natural!" oleander are poisonous and no amount of washing before eating will save you from the following symptoms:

Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and throat: Blurred vision, Vision disturbances, including halos

Gastrointestinal: Diarrhoea, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Stomach pain, Vomiting

Heart and blood: Irregular or slow heartbeat, Low blood pressure, Weakness

Nervous system: Confusion, Death, Depression, Disorientation, Dizziness, Drowsiness, Fainting, Headache, Lethargy

Skin: Hives, Rash

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2 Replies

  • Before I went on ACP-196, as a pre-caution I did not eat anything that was not cooked. This included salads, fruits and nuts and especially raw fish. At the time my immune system was not robust. I was afraid that I would get sick and be thrown out of the Phase I Trial before it began. After a month on ACP-196 and improved indices, the ban on anything uncooked was lifted. I did not suffer any problems. I will not eat raw fish and oysters.

    Let's face it, we have poor immune systems. Watch out for uncooked foods.

  • Here is an older article from Consumer's Reports that supports what Chris and Neil have posted:

    Q&A: Washing produce to reduce pesticides

    Consumer Reports News: August 27, 2010 09:53 AM

    I can’t afford organic produce. What’s the best way to wash produce to reduce pesticides? —A.C.F., Riverside, CA

    Vigorous washing with water can help minimize your exposure to some types of water-soluble pesticides that are on the surface, but it won’t remove the penetrating residues, says Carolyn Cairns, an environmental scientist on our staff. Buying organic produce is the most reliable way to limit pesticides.

    And here’s one way to save money: Focus organic purchases on produce items that tend to harbor the most harmful residues. Based on our 2008 analysis, those fruits and veggies include apples, cantaloupes, celery, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, peas, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes. Another wallet-friendly tip: Skip produce cleaners. There’s little reliable evidence that they remove more pesticides than water. One more piece of advice: Wash all produce, even if it’s marked "prewashed" or "triple washed." Our tests have found bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination in bags of prewashed salad greens.


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