Which foods to wash and why

by Monica Marelli

The meat must not be washed at all. The American Food and Drug Administration and the English Food Standards Agency, the government bodies that deal, among other things, with food safety, continue to reiterate the uselessness of rinsing this food, a habit that instead has the 80% of US consumers and 40% of British cooks.

In fact, the risk, which mainly concerns the ollo, is that of spreading the infection of Campylobacter (causes tummy ache and diarrhea) through droplets of water that inadvertently splash onto your skin, clothing and kitchen work surfaces.

At this point it is natural to ask: and other fresh foods, should they be washed or not? We turned the question over to Dr. Giorgio Donegani, food technologist. Here's what he replied.

> Eggs: DO NOT. Under the shell, they are wrapped in an invisible outer cuticle that protects them from bacteria. If you do not buy them at the supermarket, but directly from the farmer, they may have residues of excrement and straw. In this case, just wipe them with a damp cloth to remove them.

> Organic fruit and vegetables: YUP. Leave them to soak for a few minutes and then run them under the tap. Certainly, given the cultivation method, they do not have traces of pesticides, but they could be dirty with earth or be polluted by parasites. 

> Pre-washed salads: DO NOT. These products are ready for consumption and rinsing them could lead to a decrease, albeit minimal, of the vitamins and mineral salts present. Better to open the packages and immediately enjoy the contents.

> Fennel, artichokes, cabbage, leeks: YUP. It is not enough to remove the outer leaves, because traces of dirt may have entered even among the innermost ones. To be on the safe side, you should always wash these vegetables.

> Citrus fruits: NO MA... On the supermarket counters there are fruits treated on the surface with waxes, which make them more brilliant, and with anti-mold preparations. All these substances are water resistant and make the peel "inedible" (the indication should be shown on the label). In order not to transfer them to the pulp, once the citrus has been peeled, clean your hands well with soap and water. 



"To clean fruit and vegetables well, it is not necessary to add substances of any kind: it is sufficient to pass them under the jet of the tap to remove dust, any earth residues or other substances.
This operation also contributes to eliminate any bacteria present on the surface of plants », assures Dr. Giann Ferretti, biologist and professor at the School of Specialization in Food Sciences of the Polytechnic University of Marche. "Must have more attention if you are pregnant due to the danger of toxoplasmosis (a disease caused by a parasite that can damage the fetus), but even in this case a careful washing with running water is enough: the experiments have in fact shown that the sanitizing substances they do not guarantee better protection from microorganisms ".

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