Cleanliness is a major factor in food safety. With proper attention to food handling and adequate washing techniques, you can greatly reduce your risk of food borne illness and exposure to potentially harmful contaminants to keep your family safer and healthier. Dr. Shawki Ibrahim – Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor of Eat Cleaner and Grow Green Industries, Inc – offered up these three tips:
1. Use a high-quality food wash: Certain food washes are scientifically proven to be safe and highly effective in removing wax and pesticide residue while killing bacteria, without altering flavor or taste. When selecting a food wash, look for ingredients such as citric acid which is effective in stripping contaminants and wax. Other ingredients such as sea salt have been used for thousands of years as an effective anti-bacterial solution and are also useful in prolonging the shelf life of produce after the waxy coating is removed. A mild plant-based cleanser is also helpful in removing visible dirt and surface residue. It is best to avoid alcohol, as this can be unsafe if consumed, particularly for children. Grapefruit seed extract and citrus oil may also leave a residue or alter the flavor of certain produce, including berries and lettuce.
2. Clean surfaces properly: Wash the surface of cutting boards, countertops and your hands regularly when preparing any type of uncooked food to reduce your risk of food borne illness. This includes produce, eggs, poultry, meat and seafood. It is also a good idea to thoroughly clean your poultry and shellfish before you cook them properly, as they have often been sitting in their own liquid and have visible dirt, especially in the case of shellfish. There are also effective, ready-to-use products on the market that can safely clean both food and cutting surfaces.
3. Be wary of “ready-to-eat” labels. When you buy ready-to-eat shrimp or other foods, ensure that these have not been handled by gloves that have touched raw or uncooked foods, as this may cause cross-contamination. Also, if you purchase pre-washed, bagged lettuce, you should still clean them thoroughly as bacteria like E.coli can quickly grow in greens. Make sure to check the expiration date on these as well.