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Coronavirus doesn’t change produce washing rules

Consumers should wash their hands in soap and water and wash their fruits and vegetables in water.

Same as before the Wuhan virus or coronavirus COVID-19 has spread worldwide.

Some so-called experts and consumer media are advising consumers to avoid fresh produce from the grocery store or wash them in soap and water, but those steps are unnecessary and likely less healthy.

Dr. Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety for the United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458 released this statement: “There is no evidence that consuming fresh produce (or any other food) can transmit the coronavirus/COVID-19. As consumers select their produce, adhering to food safety guidance is critical. We encourage consumers to wash their hands and wash their produce before consumption by following FDA recommendations.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to point to its “Selecting and serving produce safely” page, which includes the message, “Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or eating, including produce grown at home or bought from a grocery store or farmers market. Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is not recommended.”

Consumer Reports took a hard look at the safety of leafy greens in its March issue. Regarding the virus, it said food safety actions shouldn’t change.

“There’s no data to show that washing fruits and vegetables with soap will do a better job of eliminating coronavirus—or, more to the point, that the virus is spread by consuming those foods, says Jim Rogers, CR’s director of food safety research and testing.

Retailers should consider posting signs in produce departments advising consumers of the continued safety of fresh fruits and vegetables and the importance of washing them in running water before consuming.

The Alliance for Food and Farming gives this advice for washing off pesticide residue, which also applies to the coronavirus.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services