This Claim Will Make You Want To Wash Your Grocery Store Produce

We've all heard the advice: Always wash your produce, especially ready-to-eat items with an edible exterior like apples or lettuce. But why exactly do we need to? At most supermarkets, crops that grow on the ground come pre-cleaned. Most stores also have misters that spray the produce with water. In some cases, that's not enough.

We tend to think about washing fruits and vegetables to remove dirt or pesticides from the ground, but some items actually get dirtier at the store. As The Daily Meal points out, "You know when you pick up a peach to see if it's ripe, then put it back down if it isn't? So did everybody else in the supermarket and their handsy little kids. And that little spray of water doesn't do much to keep it clean." If people touch items before wiping them down, like a shopping cart, then those same customers squeeze some tomatoes, it makes it easy for bacteria to quickly hop from one surface to another. 

According to National Health Service of the United Kingdom, E. Coli and other types of bacteria can be transmitted from hands to fruits and vegetables. The Daily Meal also reports that the minimal misting from the display doesn't do much, and, in some cases, it may even accelerate them rotting. The same article also notes that any imperfections in the produce can also provide the perfect circumstances for even more contamination.

Produce is touched by many people

Produce passes through so many hands on its way to the fridge, and we may not think about how dirty things become in that process. As Men's Health reports, these vegetables and fruits may not be as clean as you hoped they were because of the number of people that touch them. This includes farm workers, grocery store employees, shoppers, and more. If a single one of those people didn't wash their hands, there might be some unwanted residue on your fresh goods.

Thankfully, there's an easy way to curb the ill effects of contaminated veggies and fruits; simply wash them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing or scrubbing your produce under running water. This doesn't just apply only to things with an edible exterior — any crop, even if the peel will be discarded, needs to be washed to avoid contamination. The CDC also warns that "germs on the peel or skin can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them." 

It's not just the surface of the fruit that can be contaminated. Insider advises people to always wash their hands after handling produce and before cutting or processing it to avoid spoiling it all over again. This is especially true if you touch a shopping cart handle, which can have 270 times more bacteria than a toilet handle (via another article on Insider).