Washing or wiping down groceries

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: Should items from the grocery store be washed or wiped down before putting them away at home? I have significant anxiety over gluten, and my concern is that any trace gluten from the store on bags, boxes, etc., may be ingested, especially when eating something directly with my hands, like crackers, for example.


There is no need to wipe down or wash groceries unless it is unpackaged, fresh and ready to eat foods such as produce. Here are recommendations how to wash produce from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  2. If damage or bruising occurs before eating or handling, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  3. Rinse produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  4. Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  5. Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
  6. Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  7. Remove the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.

Also, always pick through and rinse beans and lentils. Pour on a cookie sheet and pick out any errant grains, then rinse well and drain. The only other time you would need to wipe something off is if you see obvious dirt or dust on packaging.

Finally, I always recommend washing hands before eating or handling/prepping foods as a general good health practice to follow.

Read more about gluten levels in these previous posts:

Understanding Gluten Levels

Can A Small Amount of Gluten Make Somebody Sick?



Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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