Handling Fruits and Vegetables at Farmers Markets

Achyut Adhikari, Gupta, Priyanka, Aryal, Jyoti, Lituma, Ivannova

Farmers Markets, LSU AgCenter Logo

Handling Fruits and Vegetables at Farmers Markets

Proper safe handling and storage practices of fresh fruits and vegetables are important to prevent cross-contamination from microorganisms. This can occur during the preharvest, harvest and processing activities and can lead to bacterial contamination of food that can cause foodborne illnesses and outbreaks.

Pre-harvest and harvest

  • Apply good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) at every stage of the chain to prevent and minimize microbial hazards associated with the food.
  • Test the water that is used for fruits and vegetables for potential microbial contamination.
  • When raw manure or waste is used, it should be managed closely to reduce microbial contamination of fresh produce.
  • Hygiene and sanitization are important along all points from the farm to the consumer.
  • Clean and sanitize harvesting equipment to keep it free of debris or manure.
  • Harvest containers should be cleaned and sanitized to prevent cross-contamination of fresh produce.

Packaging and processing

  • Remove soil, mud and dirt from fruits and vegetables outside the facilities before taking them to the packaging area.
  • Discard, repair, clean and sanitize all containers, pallets or bins before placing the fresh produce.
  • Clean and sanitize the equipment and machinery that comes in contact with fresh produce.
  • Clean and sanitize areas in which fresh produce is processed each day.


  • Clean and sanitize vehicles to reduce the risk of microbial contamination.
  • Set and maintain appropriate temperatures of fresh produce to ensure safety and quality.
  • Avoid damage to the produce by using proper containers and loading carefully.
  • Identify the following: date of harvest, farm identification and who handled the produce from grower to receiver.

Storing and selling

  • Separate fruits and vegetables that will be consumed raw from meat, poultry or seafood.
  • To avoid drips that might contain harmful bacteria from raw meats, poultry or seafood, do not store fresh produce below it.
  • Refrigerate precut or peeled fruits or vegetables at 40 F within two hours.
  • For cooking, expose the product to temperatures above 90 F and then cool down and refrigerate at 40 F.
  • Do not place containers with produce on the floor. Use a pallet or other containers to avoid contamination.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Guidance for Industry: Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. https://www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-...

Schmutz, P. (2009). Safe handling of fresh fruits and vegetables. Home and Garden Information Center. https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/safe-handling-o...

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Fruit and Vegetable Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps...

12/16/2022 10:27:35 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture