Fruit scare unnecessary, health officials say
Recent questions about the safety of cut or sliced fresh melons may have alarmed the public unnecessarily, according to the Seattle-King County Health Department.
"There is a lot more risk in not eating a healthy diet, which includes at least five fresh fruits and vegetables a day," said Director Dr. Alonzo Plough. "When the existing food handling practices and regulations already in place are followed, the public does not face a risk by eating pre-cut fruit."
National guidelines recommend that we eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day, he said.
Fresh fruit, like many other foods, can pose a risk if not prepared or stored properly. Following some simple guidelines from the health department will help keep your fruit fresh as well as safe:
- When you buy cut melons, be sure they have been buried in ice (not just displayed on top of it) or displayed in a refrigerated case. Uncut melon does not need to be refrigerated.
- Before cutting, wash the outer surface of the melon with drinking water to remove surface dirt.
- Hands and all equipment and utensils (cutting boards, knives, etc.) need to washed thoroughly with hot soapy water, and rinsed.
- Cut melons must be refrigerated at 45 degrees or below. They may be served without refrigeration for a maximum of four hours (such as at a brunch, picnic, or buffet). At the end of that time, any leftover melon must be thrown away.
- Other fruits (such as oranges, apples, lemons, and pineapple) are higher in acid and not as potentially dangerous after they are sliced.