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Nov 19, 2007 07:25 PM

Food Safety Question

Wondering if the Chowhounds intelligentsia can settle a household food safety debate. My lovely wife, who has a healthy fear of food-borne illness, believes produce should be washed with dishwashing detergent before consuming. (She used to use bleach, but I talked her out of it.) I normally just use lots of water.

My contention is that vegetables and fruits are essentially porous. Put soap on them, and you're eating soap, even if you rinse it off. I can often taste soap residue when foods are washed in it, although perhaps it's just that they've been improperly rinsed.

The recent supermarket practice of waxing fruit does seem to lend credence to her side, and has spawned a host of food-washing products for its removal. (I find this a good reason to shop at a local farmers' market.)

She also continues to use bleach for washing dishes. I believe most of it rinses off plates and such, but I worry about it leaching into soft plastic containers (tupperware etc.) as well as her inhaling bleach fumes every day—might this negate the extra sterility afforded by the bleach?

Is she going overboard, or am I a reckless slob headed for salmonella? TIA for your insights!

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  1. Bleach on fruits and veggies?!! And that is better than what may be on there?

    I'd suggest picking up a bottle of that veggie wash spray. A dilute vinegar solution works just as well, but I suspect she'd prefer the official veggie wash.

    1. While bleach is going overboard I admit that I long time ago I used to wash some fruits with soap and water but they all wound up tasting like soap. I agree with Lixer get that veggie wash if you are too scared and just plain white vinegar in water creates a good solution that is even used to clean households. The truth is if you get fresh produce (it doesn't really have to be local or organic) and wash it free of dirt: it is safe to eat. I don't think there are many (if any) reported incidences of people getting sick from fresh produce. Vegetables or fruits that have been previously handled (pre-washed veg, pre-cut fruit) have high incidence rates E. Coli poisoning. Make sure your wife is using a really dilute solution in washing plates: the truth is your dishwasher setting reaches temperatures high enough to kill any germs and even then if you properly dry you plates bacteria and viruses should be dead as there is no environment they can live in.

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