Aldi and Tesco have told shoppers to wash their fruit and veg following concerns they have been affected by dust. The supermarket giants said the orange dust which hit the headlines last month could have landed on some of their produce.
They advised shoppers to wash their fruit and vegetables before eating following dust from the Sahara covering huge areas of Europe. However for some people it might be unclear just how to make sure the food is treated correctly.
According to the Food Standards Agency website all similar produce should always be washed ahead of it being eaten – not just those affected by the Sah. It says this will ensure it is not only clean but safe.
Often loose produce could have been handled by multiple people inside a store which means it is better to wash it to ensure it is germ-free. It also means if you wash them correctly then it reduces the risk of any residues which may be on them.
It said: “Remember to wash fruit and vegetables with water before you eat them. This is to make sure that they are clean and harmful bacteria can be removed from the outside.
“You should wash them under a running tap, or in a bowl of fresh water, making sure to rub their skin under the water. You can start with the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse. Peeling vegetables can also remove more bacteria, so this is an additional precaution you can take when intending to eat root vegetables raw.”
However the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes further with its advice on general consumption of similar foods. It warns that sometimes raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs which can make people sick such as salmonella, e.coli and listeria.
It says: “Eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables gives many health benefits. But it’s important to select and prepare them safely.
“Fruits and vegetables add nutrients to your diet that help protect you from heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Also, choosing vegetables, fruits, and nuts over high-calorie foods can help you manage your weight.
“Sometimes, raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs that can make you and your family sick, such as salmonella, e. coli, and listeria. CDC estimates that germs on fresh produce cause a large percentage of foodborne illnesses in the United States.
“The safest produce to eat is cooked; the next safest is washed. You can enjoy uncooked fruits and vegetables by taking the following steps to reduce your risk of foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning.” It advises:
- Buy produce that isn’t bruised or damaged. Any pre-cut fruits and vegetables should have been ones which are refrigerated or kept on ice.
- Once home wash hands, kitchen utensils as well as food preparation surfaces, including chopping boards and countertops, before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.
- Clean fruit and vegetables before eating, cutting, or cooking, unless the package says the contents have been washed.
- Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water—even if there are no plans to eat the peel. Germs on the peel or skin can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating. Dry fruit or vegetables with a clean paper towel.
But is warns against using soap, detergent or commercial produce wash. It also says do not use bleach solutions or any fruits or vegetables.
Tesco and Aldi issued their warnings after a dust cloud was seen across the world in mid-March. Spain had issued “extremely poor air quality ratings” for a large band of the country after a mass of hot air from the Sahara dumped dust after crossing the Mediterranean.
Tesco has said the dust has affected some of its Spanish crops. It has posted a notice on its website urging people to wash produce before eating.
It said: “Due to the recent winds from the Sahara Desert, a small amount of dust has settled on our Spanish crops. Please ensure you wash your fruit and veg products before enjoying. Thank you for supporting our growers and preventing food waste by continuing to buy these products.”
Signs have also been spotted in Aldi stores, stating: “Please give your veg an extra rinse. Due to recent winds from the Sahara Desert, a small amount of dust may have settled in some of our packs. Thank you for supporting our growers and helping to reduce food waste by continuing to buy these products.”
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