The Claim: A soap-and-water rinse is the best way to clean produce.
The facts: The prospect of ingesting pesticides and other contaminants can make supermarket produce seem less than appetising. Buying organic produce lowers the risk, but is no guarantee against food-borne pathogens.
The simplest way to eliminate germs and pesticides? Rinsing with tap water, which works as well as a mild soap solution or vegetable washes.
In studies at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in 2000, for example, scientists compared pesticide removal methods on 196 samples of lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes. Some were rinsed under tap water for a minute; others were treated with either a 1 per cent solution of a popular detergent or a fruit and vegetable wash.
Tap water “significantly reduce” residues of 9 of 12 pesticides, and it worked as well as soap and wash products. Water temperature was not the key; friction was. “The action of rubbing the produce under tap water is responsible for removing pesticide residues,” scientists wrote.
For micro-organisms, try rinsing produce with a 10 per cent vinegar solution. In a 2003 study at the University of Florida, researchers tested disinfectants on strawberries contaminated with E. coli and other germs. They found the vinegar mixture reduced bacteria by 90 per cent and viruses by 95 per cent.
The bottom line: To remove pesticides and germs, rinse produce with a vinegar solution, then wash with tap water for at least 60 seconds.
- The New York Times