May 24, 2024

Center for Food Safety: The Truth About Produce Wash

Center for Food Safety has written about produce wash, those treatments for washing fruits and vegetables that are promoted as a way to avoid food poisoning. Many foodborne illness outbreaks are linked to fresh product, and consumers want to keep their families safe. So do produce washes work?

produceCFS states “it turns out the produce washes aren’t any better than water. Multiple studies have found that produce washes such as Fit and Earth Friendly are no more effective in cleaning produce than regular tap water. In a study of three commercial washes, University of Maine researchers found that distilled water was equally if not more effective in removing microbes such as bacteria and mold.”

Scientists at the Univeristy of Maine tested Fit, Ozone Water Purifier XT-301, and J0-4 Multi-Functional Food Sterilizer. Low-bush blueberries were cleaned with these products, along with a distilled water soak as a control. The researchers found that Fit washes got rid of “roughly the same amount of microbes as distilled water.” Both ozone systems removed microbes from the blueberries, but the distilled water wash was more effective.

Produce washes and systems can be expensive. The study’s conclusion was to use distilled water to wash fresh fruits and vegetables; soak all produce for one to two minutes. Distilled water is recommended because it has been filtered and purified. The FDA also recommends against produce washes. And dry the produce after washing to further reduce bacteria.

Researchers also advise consumers to not use soaps or detergents to wash produce. Use a vegetable brush on produce with thick skin. Produce with lots of nooks and crannies such as cauliflower should be soaked for 2 minutes in cold clean water. Once cut or peeled, all produce should be stored at temperatures below 40°F. And never purchase any cut produce that isn’t refrigerated.


  1. Those of us who are allergic to corn have to avoid produce washes, because they are often made from corn substances, and we have severe reactions to them.

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