A Technical Information Bulletin
Northwest Horticultural Council
Fruit Washing Advice for Consumers
The two agencies of the United States government primarily responsible for consumer food safety issues have offered the following similar advice to consumers regarding the proper washing of fresh fruit:
- “Thoroughly rinse raw fruits under running water before eating them. Don’t use soap, detergents, or bleach solutions. If necessary—and appropriate—use a small vegetable brush to remove surface dirt. Try to cut away damaged or bruised areas—bacteria can thrive in these places.” (U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition)
- “Before eating or preparing, wash fresh produce under cold running tap water to remove any lingering dirt. This reduces bacteria that may be present. If there is a firm surface, such as on apples …, the surface can be scrubbed with a brush. Consumers should not wash fruits or vegetables with detergent or soap. These products are not approved or labeled by the Food and Drug Administration for use on foods. You could ingest residues from soap or detergent absorbed on the produce.” (United States Department of Agriculture/Food Safety and Inspection Service)
Consumers should be reassured that fresh apples, pears, cherries, and other deciduous tree fruits shipped to market by commercial packing houses located in the Pacific Northwest are thoroughly washed, inspected, and graded prior to being placed in a clean carton or other container for ultimate sale. Foreign material on the surface of the fruit that might still be present from harvest in our orchards is systematically brushed or washed off in the packing house. Fruit with any defects, such as cuts or bruises, are carefully sorted out.
See also the Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices document prepared by FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The Northwest Horticultural Council represents the deciduous tree fruit industry of Idaho, Oregon and Washington on national and international policy issues affecting growers and shippers. For further information, please contact the Northwest Horticultural Council at 509-453-3193.