You probably already rinse thin-skinned fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, berries, and cucumbers before digging in, but what about produce with thicker skins? If you're anything like us, you likely thought it was safe to just peel a banana before eating it or scoop the flesh out of an avocado before making into your beloved avocado toast. But according to a recent FDA report, you could be putting yourself at risk for contracting listeria and other foodborne illness if you don't rinse the skins of fruits like avocados and lemons before enjoying them.
About a month ago, the FDA released the results of a 2014-2016 study where they tested the skins of 361 imported and domestic avocado skins for Listeria monocytogenes. 64 of the avocado skins tested positive for listeria. Listeria is a foodborne illness pregnant women are often warned about, but the general public isn't really familiar with. It's a bacteria known to cause miscarriages, stillbirths, uterine infections, and preterm delivery. Listeria can also be found in deli meats, which is why women who are expecting are warned to stay away from delicious cold turkey sandwiches for 9 months.
Although the percentage of listeria found on avocado skins was relatively low in the FDA's study, you don't want to risk ingesting this deadly bacteria. Aside from causing pregnancy-related complications, listeria also causes about 1,600 illness and 260 death a year. And it isn't just listeria that's potentially contaminating thick-skinned fruits. Bacteria like e-coli and salmonella can also be present.
The FDA is urging consumers to start washing their avocados before slicing, smashing, blending or even eating them whole. But it isn't just avocados you should be washing. Other thick-skinned fruits like lemons, melons, bananas, and grapefruit could also be carrying harmful bacteria. You might even want to rinse cans and jars before opening them. Bacteria could be lurking under the lids.
The best way to wash thick-skinned fruits?
The FDA recommends washing your hands with a bar of soap and warm water for about 20 seconds and then gently scrubbing the outside of the fruit with water and a vegetable brush. We like this one with natural bristles. You can also scrub your fruit with a little bit of baking soda to help eliminate any lingering pesticides before rinsing.
5 Fruits to Remember to Wash Before Eating
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