Personal Hygiene Garden and Harvest Sanitation
Personal hygiene and sanitation are essential Any surface or implement
for preventing foodborne illness in the home. that comes in contact with
This awareness should constantly be reinforced, fresh produce could be a
especially among children. source of contamination TREVOR V. SUSLOW
• Establish family awareness of proper
handwashing techniques (wash hands for
with pathogens. Well-
planned food handling
practices in the garden
Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis
LINDA J. HARRIS Tips for
Department of Food Science and Technology &
20 seconds using warm water and soap, and home can reduce Western Institute for Food Safety and Security,
rinse and dry with a clean cloth or paper the likelihood of cross UC Davis
towel). Pay special attention to cleaning
around the ﬁngernails—especially after
working in the garden.
• Clean all surfaces that CONTACT US
• Be aware of the potential for garden contact food including
gloves and shoes to transfer contamination harvest containers or Western Institute for Food Safety and Security
from one place (such as a compost bin) to bins prior to use. University of California, Davis
another. • Surfaces can be cleaned One Shields Avenue
• Be aware of children’s habits in the garden, with hot soapy water. Davis, CA 95616
especially toddlers in diapers, in handling Clean surfaces can be Phone: (530) 757-5700
potentially contaminated material or playing sanitized with a dilute Fax: (530) 297-6304
with or petting domestic animals (turtles, solution of bleach
cats, rabbits, chicks, etc.) before handling or (1 teaspoon liquid
eating produce. bleach per quart
[4 cups] of water).
Handling Fresh Produce Flood the surface with the bleach solution,
Information about safe allow to stand for several minutes, then
handling fruits and vegetables rinse and dry with a paper towel or clean
are available online at: cloth.
This publication provides an outline of
• Safe-Handling of Resources food safety practices important to consider
Fruits & Vegetables • Good Agricultural Practices in the edible home garden. You can develop
http://wifss.ucdavis.edu/ http://ucgaps.ucdavis.edu Visit us on the web: an individual food safety plan for your
pdf/ucfoodsafety_english.pdf • Vegetable Research & Information Center http://wifss.ucdavis.edu home garden by applying these principles,
• Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh- http://vric.ucdavis.edu/selectnewtopic. http://cps.ucdavis.edu which are drawn from research and practical
Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices garden.htm experience.
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/prodsafe. • The California Backyard Orchard
Published October 2007
Food Safety It is not possible to • Properly composted manure fertilizers, Water
Most of the fruits and vegetables consumed eliminate all inﬂuences of domestic green manures, or heat treated Water is one of the most likely vehicles to bring
in the United States are wholesome and free animals from the garden manure fertilizers are unlikely to be a pathogens in direct contact with fresh produce.
of pathogens (microbes that cause foodborne environment, but you can source of microbial pathogens.
illness). Many fruits and vegetables have natural take steps to minimize • Do not use manure from pigs, dogs, and • Be familiar with the seasonal quality of any
barriers, such as skins and rinds, that protect the their presence or activities. cats for composting or to fertilize your surface water source used for gardening.
internal edible parts from contamination with garden. Some parasites from these animals Surface water can include water from
pathogens. • During the growing are not destroyed by composting and might ponds, lakes, streams, and any other water
and harvest seasons, keep domestic animals remain infectious to humans. source that is directly exposed to the
However, contamination of fruits and and pets out of the edible garden area. • Maximize the time between the application environment.
vegetables can occur any time from planting • Carefully consider whether weed-eating of composted animal manure to garden • Carefully review all uses of graywater
through food preparation. Most pathogens can geese or pest-eating ducks and chickens are areas and harvest. (wastewater from baths, showers, clothes
be killed by cooking, but they are difﬁcult to sensible additions to your garden. Feces • Be careful not to contaminate edible crops washers, and bathroom sinks) for irrigation
remove by washing from fruits and vegetables from these animals can contain pathogens. when applying uncomposted manure to of edible garden plants. Do not use any
that are eaten raw. Therefore, prevention of • Minimize vegetation at the edges of fruit other landscape areas or plants. water that could contain pathogens.
microbial contamination is the most effective and vegetable patches. They can serve • If you are going to use uncomposted • Potable water (pathogen free) equal in
way to maximize the safety of fruits and as gathering, nesting, or hiding places manure in your garden, mix it into the soil quality to water from a municipal water
vegetables. for animals (rats, mice, etc.) that serve as at least 60 days before planting. Do not system should be used for:
vectors (sources) of human pathogens. leave manure on the soil surface. Do not ◊ any foliar (leaf surface) applications
While most individuals can recover from • Minimize the presence of vector attractants apply manure after seeding or transplanting ◊ cleaning fresh produce after harvest
foodborne illness without complications, others (such as piles of decaying fruit and edible plants. • Ensure that home wells are designed and
such as the very young, the very old, and those vegetables) adjacent to your garden. • Pathogens survive longer if manure is maintained to prevent contamination
whose immune system are compromised, are at • Keep harvest equipment surfaces (bins, left on the soil surface. This practice is of the water from surface runoff or soil
greater risk and can suffer serious complications totes, gloves, boxes, buckets, bushel more likely to result in run-off transfer to inﬁltration.
and even death. baskets) clean and sanitary. non-treated areas. Guidelines to optimize • Irrigation methods, such as trickle
The home garden is not free from pathogens. pathogen reduction in compost are irrigation, that minimize contact between
Manure available online at the water and the edible parts of the plant
The best approach to maintaining the Be informed about proper home compost
wholesome nature of your home garden’s http://ucgaps.ucdavis.edu. reduce the potential for contamination.
management for pathogen reduction, especially • Evaluate and reduce the potential for direct
harvest is to be aware of potential risks and if you are using animal manures.
establish commonsense practices that will and indirect contamination of produce
minimize the chance of contamination. when using manure slurries or manure teas
Green manure: Typically, a plant cover for pest control and foliar nutrients.
Minimizing Animal crop that is grown and then chopped • Ensure that any septic system is properly
Fecal Contamination and incorporated into the soil or allowed installed and maintained. Faulty septic
Gardens with pets and plants to decompose for the purpose of soil systems and poorly designed drain ﬁelds
that attract birds and deer improvement. “Green manure” does not have caused foodborne illnesses and other
may increase the risk of some mean raw animal manure. diseases.
types of contamination. Photo from University of Rhode Island