Are strawberries safe to eat during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The short answer is “yes.” Consumers can have confidence in California-grown strawberries, with some of the strictest regulations and highest standards regarding worker health and safety in the field being executed.
Everyone working in the food supply chain has a responsibility to work only when healthy, and to take all the necessary precautions to prevent contamination of food, food contact surfaces, co-workers, families and communities.
California strawberry farmers take pride in producing healthy and wholesome fruit that contributes to part of a healthy diet. They proudly grow strawberries for all family tables, including their own.
What does the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say about the safety of strawberries?
Both the CDC and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have stated that there is currently no evidence to support coronavirus/COVID-19 transmission associated with food or food packaging. As always, consumers should rinse fresh strawberries in cool, running water before eating.
I read somewhere that tiny bugs are found in some strawberries. Is that true?
Strawberries, as well as many fruits and vegetables, are grown outdoors. Strawberries are hand-picked and packed in the field, directly into the “clamshell” containers. Because of this, an occasional bug or worm is not unusual, and may find its way into a package and go undetected until the berries are ready for use. No one else handles or touches the berries again until opened by you.
Once the fruit is purchased, the best quality of your berries can be maintained by keeping them dry and refrigerated. Do not leave fruit out at room temperature until ready to consume. It is always recommended to rinse strawberries under cold, running water to remove any dirt, grit, or small insects just prior to enjoying.
According to the FDA, you can follow these steps to wash your fruits and vegetables, including strawberries:
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before handling food.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water. Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is NOT recommended.
- Even if you do not plan to eat the skin, it is still important to wash produce first so dirt and bacteria are not transferred from the surface when peeling or cutting produce. Scrub firm rinds with a clean produce brush (berries should not be scrubbed).
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. These areas are more susceptible to bacteria. Throw away any produce that looks rotten.
- After washing, dry produce with a clean paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.
- Many pre-cut, bagged, or packaged produce items are pre-washed and ready-to-eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging, and you can use the produce without further washing. If you choose to wash produce marked as “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” be sure that it does not come in contact with unclean surfaces or utensils. This will help to avoid cross–contamination.
- Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
Refrigerate strawberries as soon as possible in the original clamshell or layer strawberries in the container lined with a paper towel. Prior to enjoying and before preparing, rinse strawberries under cool, running water. Gently pat dry. Strawberries taste best served at room temperature.
What is the best method for growing strawberries in my home garden?
Growing strawberries as a hobby is very different from commercial strawberry production. Our advice is to contact your local nursery for growing tips.
When are California strawberries in season?
Throughout the year strawberries are being harvested in California. Depending on the weather, peak strawberry season begins in early spring and runs all the way to fall.
Is it true that California strawberries are grown without GMO technology?
Yes. There are no genetically modified strawberries commercially grown and shipped.
Different varieties of strawberries are developed for different climates and growing conditions. These varieties are developed using traditional breeding methods that involve selecting two parents and crossing them using their flowers.
There are a few different ways to freeze strawberries. One popular method is to freeze whole without sugar to maintain shape and nutritional benefits. Directions: After rinsing, gently blot dry and slice stem off at top of berry. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and place uncovered in freezer for a minimum of six hours. Transfer strawberries to a freezer bag or container. Frozen strawberries can be stored frozen for several months.
Are organic strawberries healthier than conventional?
Most studies to date show that organic and conventional strawberries are equally nutritious. Conventional strawberries are grown by farmers using many organic-approved growing practices.
Health and nutrition experts recommend eating more fresh fruits and veggies – whether organic or conventional. According to the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people should be doubling their fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight.
Do small berries taste better than larger ones?
Flavor is influenced by growing conditions like weather, stage of ripeness when harvested, and variety. Size is not a factor in determining flavor.
Can you share tips for selecting strawberries in the store?
California strawberries are fully ripe at the time they are picked and do not continue to ripen after harvesting. Choose berries with a bright red color and fresh, green caps (aka calyxes). Be sure to inspect the package to make sure there are no moldy berries.
Yes, strawberries can easily be frozen. Check out step-by-step instructions on how to select and store strawberries.
Fresh California strawberries are most flavorful at room temperature. They can be enjoyed just as they are, or added to cereal, salad, or enjoyed as a sweet or savory snack any time of day. For inspiration, check out our recipe pages or follow @castrawberries on Instagram.
What is the dirty dozen list, and should I be concerned?
Health experts and scientists say produce, grown either conventionally or organically, is safe to eat. Americans are advised to eat more fruits and vegetables to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. For more info on the topic visit www.safefruitsandveggies.com.