That is why you should wash berries before eating them
Fresh berries should always be washed thoroughly and frozen berries heated. The Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety points this out. Otherwise there is a risk of infection.
Berries can carry pathogens and contain residues from pesticides. Therefore, consumers should wash berries thoroughly before consuming them. Frozen products, on the other hand, should be heated. The Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) warns that otherwise there is a risk of infections - especially in small children, elderly and immunocompromised people and pregnant women.
Zoonotic pathogens on strawberries
According to this, strawberries in particular can be contaminated with microorganisms. In addition to germs that are harmless to humans, so-called zoonotic pathogens can also reach the strawberries through contact with the ground. Animals excrete these pathogens through their faeces. As a result, they can contaminate plants. If humans ingest them through food, zoonotic pathogens can trigger diseases.
In the past, frozen berries were also repeatedly contaminated with hepatitis A or noroviruses, which can trigger hepatitis A or gastrointestinal diseases.
Pesticide residues can be found on many berries
In addition, berries can be contaminated with pesticide residues. In a 2017 study by the official food control authorities of the federal states, 90 percent of the samples showed residues. A good three quarters contained multiple residues with up to 17 different active ingredients. However, only very few were above the applicable maximum values.
Studies of raspberries and blueberries show similar results. Around two thirds of the examined samples of these berries showed quantifiable residues. In almost every second sample of blueberries, residues from several agents were found; in the case of raspberries, 65 percent of the samples had multiple residues. Laboratories found pesticide residues in around 90 percent of the samples of currants and blackberries. Limit values were exceeded in five to ten percent.
In a food safety monitoring project carried out by the BVL in 2016, frozen currants continued to have more residues than fresh ones.
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