Medical News Today: Why you should wash fruits and vegetables

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Washing fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of illness from food contamination.

People should thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating them. Produce that the manufacturer has prewashed does not require further rinsing, however.

There are two main risks of eating unwashed fruits and vegetables: bacterial contamination and pesticides.

In recent years, many outbreaks of foodborne illness have come from contaminated cantaloupe, spinach, tomatoes, and lettuce.

In 2016, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated an outbreak of listeriosis that hospitalized 19 people. One person died from the infection.

More recently, in January 2019, the CDC, FDA, and health officials in several states and Canada investigated an outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli) infections from contaminated romaine lettuce.

This outbreak affected 62 people across 16 states, but there were no deaths.

Although pesticides can help farmers grow more food, they also have many health risks. It can be challenging to avoid pesticides, however, as many nontargeted crops have exposure to these chemicals.

According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization, almost 70% of fruits and vegetables in the United States have pesticide residue, even after washing.

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