Don’t wash fruit and veg with disinfectant

29 May 2020

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recently urged people not to wash fruit and vegetables with disinfectant, explaining that using water alone can remove surface contaminants.

The FSA statement follows recent advice by an American physician Dr Jeffrey Van Wingen, who produced a video suggesting people should pre-soak fresh fruit and vegetables in soapy water and then wash these with soap again for 20 seconds.

However, fresh produce experts subsequently denounced the video, warning that soap and detergents are for cleaning crockery and cutlery and not formulated for food or meant to be ingested.

In a similar vein, health experts have advised that bleach, sanitisers and other disinfectants are designed for use on surfaces or the hands, as outlined by the manufacturer and are not for ingestion.

The FSA says fruit and vegetables should not be washed with disinfectant and that water alone can remove surface contaminants.

The statement from the FSA said, “Remember to wash fruit and vegetables with water before you eat them. This is to make sure that they are clean and harmful bacteria can be removed from the outside.

“You should wash them under a running tap, or in a bowl of fresh water, making sure to rub their skin under the water. You can start with the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse.

“Peeling vegetables can also remove more bacteria, so this is an additional precaution you can take when intending to eat root vegetables raw.”