Fresh produce and food banks

‘Tis the season for giving, and increasingly, food banks are distributing fresh produce.

The New York Times reported earlier this month,

“… food banks are preparing ready-to-eat meals, opening their own farms and partnering with institutions as varied as local supermarkets and state prisons to help gather and process food. They are also handling much more fresh produce, which requires overhauling the way they store and distribute food.”

What the story doesn’t mention is the risks of foodborne illness associated with fresh produce and how best to manage those risks.

Years ago, I went to an industrial kitchen that produced meals for several Toronto food banks to review their food safety protocols. It was impressive, and whatever fresh produce they got went into soups and stews, for food safety and preservation reasons.

I’m all for increased consumption of fresh produce, through food banks and elsewhere. But acknowledge and manage the risks.