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Why Should I Care About Washing Produce?

While it’s easy to bite into an apple, throw spinach in a salad, or pack some blueberries for later without implementing proper sanitation practices, there are elevated risks when it comes to eating unwashed produce. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a large portion of foodborne illnesses in the United States comes from germs on fresh produce. Common examples of these germs include Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne germs every year, and that they cost the US more than $15 billion each year. The symptoms from foodborne germs and illnesses can range in severity, stretching from an upset stomach to hospitalization. Thus, washing fruits or veggies before eating them is an easy preventative measure in preventing foodborne illnesses, making it an important step to incorporate in your food preparation processes.


What Produce Needs to be Cleaned?

The CDC says that all produce should be thoroughly cleaned prior to consumption, even if you don’t plan on eating the skin or outside of the product. This means that even though you might not plan to eat the orange peel or zest a lemon over a dish, it’s still important to wash the outside of the fruit or vegetable in question. The agency also recommends using more intensive measures for firmer produce; they suggest not just washing–but also scrubbing–firmer produce like potatoes, cucumbers, and melons with a clean brush. 


How Should I Wash Fruits & Veggies?

There are a number of effective ways to quickly wash produce, and some other practices that are helpful for keeping produce germ-free. The CDC says that at the grocery store, every shopper should look for non-bruised or undamaged produce, and that if you’re buying pre-cut produce, it should be in the refrigerated section of the store. Once you bring home produce, washing them under running water, either with or without a produce wash, is a crucial step to get rid of any lingering dirt, bacteria, or other unwanted germs. Then, storing it in a refrigerated environment away from raw meat or poultry products is important in maintaining fresh produce.


The CDC says that not all produce-washing tips found on the internet are actually effective; vinegar washes, salt-and-pepper rinses, and laundry detergent, for example, are not scientifically backed. However, a study done by Siva Kumar Malka and Me-Hea Park for Frontiers in Plant Science found that chlorine dioxide, a compound made of oxygen and chlorine, is “effective in controlling microbial growth and retaining the quality of fresh produce.”  PureLine’s chlorine dioxide generators create liquid chlorine dioxide on site, permitting food processors and food distribution companies to effectively control bacterial concerns for product. PureLine’s spray-on chlorine dioxide product that has been approved by the EPA for use on food contact is PureLine’s Pure100 spray. Engineered by chlorine dioxide experts at PureLine, the product only contains oxygen and chlorine, yet is powerful enough to kill the bothersome germs that can live on fruits and vegetables and potentially cause foodborne illnesses in humans. 

To learn more about how PureLine’s chlorine dioxide generators or products can be used for your produce-washing needs, fill out the form below to get in contact with a PureLine representative.


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