Wash Fruits and Vegetables

Contact: Nick Houtman, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777

ORONO, Maine — Washing fresh fruits and vegetables with distilled water appears to be as effective in protecting food safety as using some commercial products designed for that purpose, according to a new University of Maine Cooperative Extension fact sheet.

Eating fresh produce provides important health benefits, but raw foods can also carry risks of food-borne illness if they are not properly cleaned. A market has thus developed for new commercial wash treatments designed to reduce those risks.

To test the effectiveness of these products, UMaine researchers compared the results of washing with three products, according to package directions, and with distilled water that is free of microorganisms. Researchers applied each product to lowbush blueberries.

The research team included Kristi Crowe, graduate student, and Professor Alfred Bushway of the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Mahmoud El-Begearmi, food safety specialist for Cooperative Extension.

Distilled water was as effective as Fit