Fruits are nutritious and an important part of a healthy diet. However, fresh fruits may be contaminated with harmful microorganisms (such as bacteria and viruses) that are present in the soil, water or animal faeces and come into contact with the fruits. Fruits and fruit products may also become contaminated during preparation or storage. Eating contaminated fruits and fruit products can lead to illnesses. To ensure food safety, it is important to follow food safety tips below all the time, including when you are travelling abroad:
For fresh fruits including pre-cut fruits-
- Purchase fresh fruits that are not damaged and without bruised areas.
- Buy ready-to-eat pre-cut fruit from hygienic and reliable premises and only if they are refrigerated.
- Keep perishable fresh fruits, e.g. strawberries, as well as pre-cut or peeled fresh fruits at 4 oC or below if they are not consumed immediately. When transporting pre-cut or peeled fresh fruits to a picnic or gathering, put them in a cool box/ bag with ice or gel packs and discard them if they are kept at room temperature (including time for preparation, storage and transport) for more than 4 hours.
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling fresh fruits.
- Cut away any bruised areas on fresh fruits before preparing and/or eating. Discard any rotten fresh fruits.
- Before peeling, cutting and eating, wash fresh fruits (including those with skins and rinds that are not to be eaten) thoroughly under running tap water to remove any lingering dirt. This reduces microorganisms that may be present.
- Rub firm-skin fruits, e.g. melons, under running tap water or scrub with a clean produce brush while rinsing with water.
- Do not use soap or detergent to wash.
- Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce microorganisms that may be present.
- Use different cutting boards and knives to handle fresh ready-to-eat fruits and raw foods (such as raw meat).
- In general, after thorough washing, you can eat fruit skin where possible, as it is a useful source of dietary fibre. However, if you would like to reduce the risk of illness especially when you travel abroad, peel raw fruit before you eat and do not eat the peelings.
- Fresh fruits of date palm should be peeled before consumption.
- Consume pre-cut or peeled fruits as soon as possible. As a general rule, if pre-cut or peeled fruits have been kept under room temperature-
- for less than 2 hours, they can be refrigerated for final use later or used before the 4 hours limit is up. Consume refrigerated pre-cut or peeled fruits within 1 to 2 days.
- for more than 2 hours but less than 4 hours, they should be used within the 4 hours limit is up but should not be returned to the refrigerator.
- for more than 4 hours, they should be discarded.
For fruit products including dried fruits and fruit juices-
- Buy fruit products from hygienic and reliable premises.
- Read and follow the storage instructions of fruit products e.g. kept pasteurised juice at 4°C or below.
- Do not use fruit products beyond its "best before" or "use by" date.
- Do not consume fruit products if their packaging is torn or broken, or if the products have shown sign of spoilage (e.g. mouldy surface).
- Fresh fruit juices may be contaminated with microorganisms that are present on the inside or the outside of the fresh produce unless the juices are treated to destroy any harmful microorganisms.
- Susceptible populations (e.g. pregnant women, infants, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems) should avoid high risk food items including untreated fruit juices and fresh fruits salad.
- Freshly collected date palm juice should be boiled before consumption