Between selection, purchase and preparation there is a lot to consider when buying fresh produce. This guide will show you the food safety hazards to avoid and the tips and tricks that can make your produce selection more nutritious and more cost effective. From supermarket shelf to your kitchen counter, this is Food Safety First’s top tips for buying fruit and vegetables.
Don’t buy produce that is bruised or damaged
It’s a great place for bacteria to hide and spread rapidly to the rest of the fruit or vegetable. Furthermore, damaged produce is less nutritious and less tasty.
Before selecting, give produce a light squeeze
If it is ripe it should give a bit under pressure. No fruit except apples should be rock-hard. Fruits such as pears, bananas and avocados, continue to soften after picking if left at room temperature.
Smell your fruit
A sweeter fragrance indicates ripeness in your fruit.
Choose smaller pieces of fruit
Smaller fruit is typically sweeter.
Choose vibrant, colourful produce
Select a diverse range of colourful produce. Different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different phytochemicals that have varying nutritional benefits.
Buy produce seasonally
Not all fresh produce grows year round. To sell certain produce in its off-season incurs a significant shipping expense on retailers which is transferred onto the price of the food. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are both better quality and less expensive.
Choose chilled food
When buying fresh cut fruits and vegetables choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice. It is important that fruits or vegetables that have already been halved or opened in some way are stored and displayed in a chilled environment.
Compare the price
Check the difference in price between loose produce and prepackaged produce. Choosing loose, single unit produce is often better value for money compared to prepackaged options. Selecting the goods yourself also allows you to select better quality fruits and vegetables.
Don’t be afraid of canned fruits and vegetables
Although they often contain a higher sodium content than fresh and frozen goods, the nutritional values of canned produce is mostly the same. If good fresh produce is not available, consider canned varieties and opt for products that are sodium reduced.
Separate your fresh fruits and vegetables from your meat, poultry and seafood
In the shopping trolley and when bagging, make sure you separate fresh produce from raw meat, poultry and seafood. Blood and juice from raw meat could contain pathogens that have the potential to contaminate.
Give fruit and vegetables a light rinse before consumption
Giving your produce a quick rinse reduces our exposure to potentially harmful microorganisms and can wash away chemicals and nasty pesticides.
Consider these helpful tips next grocery trip. They will ensure you get better quality produce at a lower price. For a more in-depth understanding of fresh produce and food safety, check out our introduction to food safety course.