5 food safety tips to follow after damage from floodwater and stormwater
If you are in a disaster or emergency, it’s important that you take steps to prevent illness from unsafe food.
Follow these food safety after damage from floodwater or stormwater:
1. Throw away the following foods or food containers:
Food with an unusual odor, color, or texture.
Food in packages that are not waterproof.
Food in cardboard containers, including juice/milk/baby formula boxes.
Food containers with screw caps, snap lids, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops, and snap tops.
Home-canned foods. They cannot be disinfected.
Canned foods or food containers that are bulging, open, or damaged.
Throw out cans or food containers that spurt liquid or foam when you open them or contain food that is discolored, moldy, or smells bad. When in doubt, throw it out, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. Clean and sanitize food-contact surfaces that have been flooded.
3. Throw out wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers if they have come into contact with floodwaters. Sanitizing methods are not effective for removing floodwater contaminants from these items.
4. Clean and sanitize dishes, utensils, and other surfaces that touch food (like refrigerator drawers or kitchen countertops) in a four-step process:
Wash with hot, soapy water.
Rinse with clean, safe water.
Make a solution of 1 cup (8 oz/240 mL) of unscented household chlorine bleach in 5 gallons of clean water.
Soak items for 1 minute in the beach solution (solution should completely cover the items).
For items that you can’t put in the solution (like countertops), apply solution with a cloth.
Allow to air dry.
5. Salvage commercially prepared food in cans and plastic or metal pouches (like flexible, shelf-stable juice packages):
Remove labels if possible. Note the expiration date.
Brush or wipe away dirt or silt.
Wash cans and pouches with hot, soapy water.
Rinse cans and pouches with clean, safe water.
Sanitize cans and pouches in one of two ways:
Place them in a solution of 1 cup (8 oz/240 mL) of unscented household bleach in 5 gallons of water for 15 minutes, or put in a pot of water, bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 2 minutes.
Re-label cans or pouches with a marker. Include the expiration date.
Use food in cans or pouches as soon as possible.