According to the Congressional General Accounting Office, 85% of food-borne illnesses originate from vegetables, fruit, seafood, and cheeses. The Federal Center for Disease Control puts forth that “salads or salad bars accounted for 35% of food-borne illness caused by produce, followed by fruit, 21%, lettuce, 17%, and sprouts, 10%.” Simply washing your produce can substantially reduce the risks of getting sick.
People can definitely get sick from not washing fruits and vegetables as bacteria can be present in both the soil and fertilizer that is used to grow fruits and vegetables (organic and non). The USDA recommends washing all fruits and vegetables with a strong, steady stream of water, enough to remove all visible and non-visible particles of dirt and soil. Fruits and veggies with a hard skin can be lightly scrubbed with a brush but soap should never be used on any surface as it is not safe to digest.
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