TODAY   |  July 27, 2013

How to safely eat imported food

Nearly one in six Americans gets sick every year from foodborne diseases, but washing fruit and vegetables can help to combat the statistics. Imported foods are also set to become safer, with the FDA proposing new rules to regulate the industry. NBC’s Madelyn Fernstrom is interviewed by TODAY’s Lester Holt and Erica Hill.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> madeline is here to explain the new rules and give us tips on what to do in our homes to protect ourselves.

>> good morning.

>> a lot of what we eat is imported. that's what the rules are referring to.

>> for the fruits and vegetables. importers, people get things as farm grown. they come in and are distributed. the importers are going to be responsible to make sure they are safe, transported for better safety. a third party referee to inspect them, not somebody's brother-in-law who owns the country. so food that is safe to begin with will get safer. more inspection will be better. there's a lot of things you need to do at home.

>> got up this morning, had somberry, ran them under the water. is that enough?

>> under the water is not enough. first, wash your own hands. start with your hands. then you want to either, for something like berries, soak them in a bowl of water.

>> how long?

>> a few minutes. jostle them around with your hands. the same thing with greens. it's not just a little swipe. then you can take a scrub brush and scrub. you can also do it with something like a beach, be gentle. it's only superficial.

>> you have prepackaged things there. are they already washed? do i need to wash those?

>> a lot of times they are washed but they are chopped up on machines. it can be contaminated. you also want to eat fruits and vegetables. even the bagged things have to be washed.

>> what about things like bananas and melons?

>> if you have a natural rapper, peel it off, that will be good. all the superficial stuff is off. wash your hands ahead of time. if you are cutting them, swap out your knife.

>> this is going to get a reaction, but frozen, is it better to go frozen?

>> it's great if you want things out of season. global food, if you want berries in january, skip the fresh ones. they are going to be imported. stick with frozen, they are going to be harvested when it's normally grown, often america. you can read the label. it will say country or origin. that's what you want to look for.

>> and they have been washed.

>> right.

>> the fda is being proactive to the rules.

>> it's a great thing. a step in the right direction.