Should you wash and disinfect fruits and vegetables before putting them in the fridge?

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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The pandemic has led us to wash everything that enters our home, but is it healthy to wash fruit before putting it in the fridge?

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The new hygienic requirements dictated by the pandemic lead us to wash everything that enters our home, even fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables. But is it healthy to wash fruit before putting it in the fridge?

Due to the pandemic, our hygiene habits have changed profoundly. We are led to often wash our hands and clothes, and at the same time sanitize everything that happens to us, to avoid the risk of contracting Covid-19. But when it comes to fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, is it healthy to wash them before storing them in the refrigerator?

Experts suggest that never wash whole fruit and vegetables before storing them in the fridge: contact with water leads to an increase in humidity and favors the growth of molds and bacteria. This, of course, causes food to spoil faster and could force us to throw away food which, if stored correctly, would have a longer life.

Here are some tricks to properly store fruit and vegetables inside our fridge:

(Read also: Pesticides on fruits and vegetables: rinsing is not enough, these are the best and most effective methods to remove them)

  • Store fruit and vegetables in their own container or fruit drawer, separated by airtight films or containers (keeping different types of fruit in the same container causes a faster deterioration);
  • Do not overfill the fruit drawer and buy only the necessary fruit to be consumed within a few days;
  • Cover pre-cut fruit and vegetables with cling film or place them in airtight containers;
  • Keep fruit and vegetables separate from meat, poultry, fish and other foods inside the refrigerator: meat and fish, separated from other foods with wrappers, must be placed in the coldest compartment and make sure that they do not lose liquids that could contaminate other foods; dairy products, eggs and other foods that must be kept in the refrigerator after opening must be placed at an intermediate temperature; cheeses must be kept in closed containers or in their original packaging;
  • Do not place heavy objects on top of fruit and vegetables;
  • Keep the refrigerator at a temperature of 4 ° C or lower and clean it regularly.

To avoid the danger of the presence of viruses and bacteria on the surface of vegetables and fruit, we can proceed, before consumption, to a thorough cleaning - using for example bicarbonate: some studies on bicarbonate have shown its effectiveness in removing not only bacteria, but also pesticide residues both on the surface and under the peel of the fruit. 

Source: FoodSafety / Ministry of Health

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