All vegetables and fruits must be treated with utmost care from the point of harvest to the consumer’s plate, says a nutrition expert, Nwabumma Asouzu.
The Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, said using detergent or bleach to wash fresh fruits and vegetables makes them unsafe for consumption.
She made the disclosure during an interview with PUNCH Healthwise, stressing that it is wrong to wash fresh vegetables and fruits with products that are not consumable and hazardous to health.
Asouzu noted that vegetables generally should be handled carefully as they contain antioxidants that can be lost when mishandled.
According to her, raw vegetables could be contaminated with physical agents like the seller’s unclean hands or the vegetables might have come from an unhygienic environment.
The dietician said poorly handled vegetables by the sellers might lead to contamination and loss of nutrients.
Asouzu, however, said there are ways to prepare vegetables and make them clean and safe for human consumption
“Add a little quantity of salt, wash and then rinse the vegetables under running tap water or in clean water.
“While rinsing under running tap water, rub or scrub firm-skinned vegetables with a clean vegetable brush.
“Never use detergent or bleach to wash fresh fruits and vegetables since these products are not consumable.
“When shopping, separate fresh vegetables from household chemicals and raw foods such as meat, poultry and seafood. During preparation, remove and discard bruised or damaged portions of vegetables before cooking,” she advised.
The nutrition expert noted that in the aspect of food safety, slicing vegetables before washing has its own consequences.
“The larva of some insects can remain attached to the leaves if they are washed after slicing. Normally, by first picking these vegetables before washing and slicing, such insects and their larva would have been removed.
“But because the process is reversed, these larvas will remain attached to the vegetables.
“Consumption of such vegetables poses a significant health risk to people because the mild heat and short time used in cooking such vegetables may not be effective in destroying the insects and their larva”, she warned.
The dietician urged consumers never to buy damaged or bruised fresh vegetables, warning that they could be contaminated.
“Meal preparation can be properly planned ahead to allow for ample time to pick, wash and slice vegetables, thereby preserving their nutritional quality and ensuring their safety”, she added.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, sometimes, raw vegetables contain harmful germs that can make you and your family sick, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.
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