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Fruit and Food Safety - What You Need To Know

What You Need To Know About Fruit and Food safety

Raw fruits and vegetables can carry harmful germs such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria that can cause illness. A large percentage of foodborne illnesses are caused by  fruit and vegetables. Germs on the peel or skin may enter and contaminate the fruit, so even if you don't intend to eat the peel, always wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water before eating.

How does produce processing work?

After harvesting, the produce is not immediately sent to be packed and distributed to retailers. A key part of the production process involves getting rid of potentially harmful bacteria that are in the produce. All of these basic steps involve their own good practices for food safety but food safety must always start where the food is grown, like farms. Produce processing can include the following processes:

  • Washing and sanitizing
  • Sorting by color or size
  • Pasteurizing for juices
  • Adding preservatives to increase shelf life
  • Chopping or mixing
  • Cooking or freezing
  • Canning and packaging

Food Safety Best Practices for the Produce Industry 

Because fruits and vegetables need to be grown outside, contamination is almost always inevitable as there are a lot of variables to consider. Contamination due to bacteria is the most common as there are various ways for these crops to get them, via fertilizer made from animal waste, animals, or humans that are infected or contact with insects that are carriers of the bacteria. So in order to avoid contamination from happening, farmers need to take prevention measures. Here are some best practices that should be followed in order to ensure food safety in the produce industry: 

  • Test soil quality: Soil carries a lot of germs that may contaminate the crops that grow in them. Therefore the best way to avoid contamination of the produce is by testing it before planting anything.
  • Test irrigation water quality: Even when the soil is healthy for your crops to grow, the other factor that could easily contaminate fruits and vegetables is contaminated water. Farmers should carefully choose an ideal location not just for the quality of soil, but also of upstream uses of irrigation water.
  • Do not irrigate crops before harvest: As a rule of thumb, growers advise not to irrigate crops that is close to the harvest date. They recommend giving it at least two to seven days before harvest. If the water that was used for irrigation was bacteria-infested, this gap without water provides ample time for any bacteria to likely die before the crop is harvested.
  • Use raw manure carefully: This one is as self-explanatory. Manure is a byproduct of cows but it also good to keep in mind that it is, after all, animal waste. And animal waste can contain harmful microbes. If a grower's strategy is to use manure as fertilizer at the farm, it’s always recommended that harvesting of the crops should be held off until after 120 days.
  • Keep animals away from crops: Animals should be kept away from growing produce at all times. Especially if it's close to harvest time as they can be infected with bacteria or parasites that can easily infect other surfaces or pass the bacteria on through their feces and these bacteria could go into the soil and contaminate the growing plants in the farm.

Who is at risk for food-borne illness? 

There are certain types of people that cannot afford to get infected or sick because of these germs. People who are 65 years and older, pregnant women, babies and children, and those that have comorbidities are at a higher risk of getting sick from contaminants because of their weakened immune systems.

Microbial Hazard 

Water can bind several microorganisms together resulting in pathogenic forms such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), salmonella, and shigella. Even a small bite of contaminated food may lead to foodborne illness. There are no known statistics or estimates as to how often produce becomes contaminated with water used during the cultivation or packing process but farmers and growers are urged to take proactive steps in minimizing these microbial risks with which they have some form of control over.

In 1990 and 1993, two outbreaks in 4 states involving an estimated 300 deaths were linked to fresh tomatoes. In a separate trial, it was determined that tomato samples came from a single manufacturing facility and process with contamination at its possible source. 

Fresh Produce Safety Tips 

Produce can be contaminated by the soil or water where the produce has been sourced or during storage, shipping, or preparation. 

Remember to always wash raw fruits and vegetables carefully and remember to keep them clean and properly prepared. Use separate dividers for vegetables and for raw food products such as meats, poultry, and seafood. Use separate cutting boards when preparing fresh produce or meat or poultry. After using the kitchen, ensure that the kitchen surface is cleaned and you are washing kitchen accessories thoroughly with clean water and soap and be left to dry off before storing them back in their respective cupboards and drawers. 

Read more

Recent Fruit Reports

3/25/23here The un refrigerated mango Yes none of the fruit was refrigerated and there’s more complaints under the shop’s review | Symptoms: Nausea See Less

My daughter, sister and I got really sick after sharing a coke and a Fruit punch from this location this morning. All symptoms lead to food poisoning and this was the only common denominator. We actually threw the fruit punch away because it tasted horrible it wr... See More shared the coke. We did not eat or drink anything else. Someone needs to look into this. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

I stopped by the restaurant after work and ordered a chicken sandwich and a fruit cup, I was hesitant to stop because it was around 8- 9’ o’clock and felt it was close to closing. There were no lines. I ordered my food scanned my rewards QR... See More code, And headed home. After. I ate my food I watched a little bit of a movie, took a shower, then went to bed. I only ate the chicken sandwich; which had tomato’s and lettuce added. I did not eat the fruit. Around 2-3am my stomach was aching. I was extremely sick, I was sweating and I had a intense case of diarrhea. This went on all nite and it is still going on. But the diarrhea has slowed but now there is blood in my stool and my stomach is still cramping. I am having chili’s off and on and last night I had a excruciating headache. I love chick- fil-a and was very surprised I got sick eating there. Perhaps it was a bad batch of chicken. I will be staying away from there for a while.I spent $10.82 on 3/23. I paid with my Visa card. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Headache, Sweating, Cramps See Less

I bought Clovis farms Organic Smoothie fruit and took it for two days last Saturday and Sunday
I have been very sick since and had to go to urgent care I am now on Antibiotics | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

My son ate a bowl of fruit loops and now few hours later stomach is cramping and has diarrhea. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Cramps See Less

Sounds like it was the milk lol or something else he ate
1 Reply 1 week ago
Iwaspoisoned Support
Hi, thanks for your comment. It is possible to get sick from both. In fact, starting in late 2021, Lucky Charms food poisoning reports started to trend on our site and we got around 7,300 persons citing they got sick from it. even the FDA initiated an investigation into it. A similar situation was related to Cheerios cereal in 2022.
Reply 1 day ago
I had only eaten fruit, Golden Grahams (dry,no milk), and water and got diarrhea almost immediately after. I thought it was a stomach bug and dismissed it. I took and bag of dry cereal today and water only and the same thing 🤦🏽‍♀️ | Symptoms: Diarrhea See Less

I had Quinoa salad, Vegetable Curry & Fruit Soup. He had Chicken Salad, Fish & Rice Pudding. He was violently sick & had diarrhoea which continued for 2 days. I had diarrhoea & nausea.
The food was eaten on Weds 8th March. After a couple of days... See More we were better although the smell of food is still making me feel nauseous but maybe it’s psychosomatic though I’ve eaten very little since then. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea See Less

Could I confirm if this was recent, as I got incredibly sick and had the above symptoms as your husband.
Reply 2 weeks ago
This was last week. My husband was violently sick and had diarrhoea for 2 days. I was nauseous and had diarrhoea. We had nothing else to eat that day after Captain Jacks.
Reply 2 weeks ago
Okay, thanks. This is a very similar situation to myself, I had the fish and the chicken, and was very unwell. I’m going to contact Disney. Would you be interested in sending a testimonial email for further evidence ? I can send you my email address if so ?
Reply 2 weeks ago
My husband, child, and I all visited here yesterday afternoon around 5pm.
We are all big fans of the store & usually their food as a treat after shopping.
We stopped at the cafeteria like usual and all grabbed a slice of pizza & a fruit smoothie.... See More Looking back I think it’s possible this was too close to closing and maybe the pizza had been sitting out & reheated a few times.
We were fine for a few hours until around when we went to sleep.
It started with me getting awful night sweats/hot flashes, a headache, and body aches.
Then my husband woke up and immediately went to the bathroom and said he had painful diarrhea and stomach pain.
This was around when my son woke up and vomited and had to run to the bathroom with the runs as well.
We all barely slept but I was more nauseated and vomiting until a few hours ago when I began having bathroom difficulties as well.
Now my husband and I are feeling akin to a bad hangover with that headache & nausea feeling.
I have a slight fever but I am also immunocompromised. My son still has the runs as well.
We took Covid tests (just in case,) but are having no other symptoms.
The only thing we ate all day that was the exact same was the pizza.
I’ll take this as a lesson learned to never go to the food court too close to closing but I think it’ll take awhile for us to go back in general.
We- Not looking for any compensation or apologies; They- just- please don’t cut corners when it comes to food safety!
If you don’t have enough fresh product to serve that late just don’t serve anything :/ | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Fever, Headache, Stomach Pain, Body Ache, Night Sweats
See Less

Wonder if it could also be the fruit smoothie?
Reply 2 weeks ago
Suspected food poisoning. Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach Pain
Suspected source: Food
Onset: Right away
Duration: Less than 4 hours
Sick: Me
Additional information: Fruit cup cocktail | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach Pain See Less

My daughter had chicken nuggets and a fruit cup last night and she’s been throwing up the whole night and into the morning. Now she is having diarrhea too. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

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