Fruit and vegetables
One of the reasons that food poisoning may be increasing in western countries is that we no longer eat the traditional meat and three cooked vegetables but are consuming healthier food such as salads and fruit. Raw vegetables and fruit are great for our health but they can be contaminated from the soil they are grown in or by people handling them before you have bought them.
You don’t have to store whole fruit and vegetables in the fridge, in fact fruit and tomatoes ripen and taste better if left out of the fridge. Store potatoes in a cool dark place where they won’t start to sprout as this generates toxins. Brush off any visible soil from vegetables and wash under running water and dry any fruit or vegetables just before you use them. If you wash them and then store them they may begin to grow moulds. If you’ve handled visibly dirty vegetables, like potatoes with soil on them, make sure you wash your hands, knife and chopping board before you handle other foods.
Once whole vegetables and fruit are cut up they should be covered and stored in the fridge where they can’t be contaminated by other food especially raw meat and chicken. They should be discarded after two to three days.
If you have excess vegetables you can freeze them by cutting up and blanching them by dipping them into boiling water to kill any bacteria. Freeze in small batches and use within the time period recommended for fruit and vegetables on your freezer door or lid. You may also want to cook batches of fruit and vegetables and then divide into smaller portions and freeze.
Home bottling or canning
Be vigilant if you bottle excess fruit and vegetables because of the risk of botulism. Commercial canneries follow strict time and temperature heating schedules that are capable of killing the spores. In home bottling such regimes are not possible. If you are bottling at home, stick to the high acid fruits such as pears, apples and stone fruit. If you bottle tomatoes, mango, paw paw, banana or any other tropical fruit you must add some citric acid. Vegetables can only be safely bottled if bottled in vinegar.
If you want to produce your own vegetables in oil or flavoured oils you can keep them refrigerated for up to 10 days. If you want to bottle them, you need to acidify the vegetables and any fresh herbs first.
Recall of berries due to Hepatitis A
There is more information on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website concerning the recall of berries due to Hepatitis A during February 2015