Script: Emergency Response: Flooding
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Hello, I’m with the FSIS Office of Data Integration and Food Protection. Today
I’d like to talk about preparing your establishment for the possibility of flooding
and protecting your food products from becoming contaminated.
The Office of Data Integration and Food Protection recommends that you consider
flooding from three distinct perspectives:
We can help you with this critical planning. We have developed a “Flooding
Checklist for Small and Very Small Meat, Poultry, and Egg Processing Plants”
that we think you will find useful. The checklist is available as a brochure
on the FSIS Web site, and would also be helpful for large plants. To access
the brochure, go to
- First – you should prepare your facilities, your employees, and your
product for the potential of flooding;
- Second – you should have a response plan should flooding occur; and
- Third – you should have a recovery plan to get back to normal operations
as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible.
So, what are the specifics of preparation, response, and recovery when it comes
to flooding? Let’s take it step-by-step.
First is preparation – of your facility, your employees, and your product:
For your facilities:
For your employees:
- You should determine if the facility is located in an area prone to
flooding from heavy rains, tornados, or hurricanes.
- Examine the outside structure. Is it in good condition?
- Develop a clean up plan that covers each room in the facility, including
dry storage, processing and slaughter areas, coolers, and freezers.
And for your product
- Prepare and practice a call-down system for notifying employees of the
plant's operational status.
The second perspective is response. When flooding occurs, you need to consider
your facility, your employees, and your product.
- Determine how the product is packaged and stored.
- Is it in areas that might be affected by rising water?
- Are there methods that can be put into place to quickly remove product
in the event there is time to prepare, and
- Are there ways to protect the product from contamination without
removing it from the plant?
- Look at these factors and include mitigation strategies in your plan.
For your facility, you’ll need to:
For your employees you’ll need to:
- Evaluate the facility’s condition;
- Determine if the plant can operate in a safe and sanitary manner; and
- Then put into place the plans that you developed in the preparation
And finally, for your product, you’ll need to:
- Implement call-down or notification procedures;
- Determine if the employees are safe;
- Determine how many employees are available for work;
- Contact the FSIS frontline supervisors or district office to let them
know the status of your operations; and
- Keep your employees apprised of conditions on a daily basis.
The final step is recovery:
- Determine if the product is affected or contaminated;
- Retain any affected product; and
- Maintain contact with the FSIS frontline supervisors or district office
regarding affected product and conditions.
For your facilities:
For your employees:
- Determine the extent of the damage to the plant;
- Arrange for appropriate repairs as required;
- Assess the internal area of the plant, including the processing rooms,
coolers, freezers, and slaughter areas;
- Institute the clean up plan, including testing after clean up and sanitizing
to determine effectiveness;
- Use the information from the clean up and sampling results to make determinations
about the start up of the plant;
- Determine if the water supply is safe to produce wholesome product;
- Determine if the plant can produce product that is safe, wholesome,
and properly labeled.
And for your product:
- Use the call-down plan to determine how many employees are available
and to notify them when it is safe to return to work;
- Notify employees of plant operational status as needed; and
- Determine if you have enough personnel available to resume operation.
Remember: if your facility is in a flood-prone area, you should be prepared.
Know how to protect your food products and how you will respond, so recovery
can be as rapid and efficient as possible.
- Keep records of the amount of affected product that has been disposed
of or denatured;
- Determine if product can be safely reprocessed;
- Fill out all appropriate FSIS disposal forms for product;
- Keep FSIS personnel informed on the decisions that you have made regarding
- Ensure that FSIS employees are able to confirm proper disposal of product
through records or observation of disposal; and
- Update your plan as needed.
For more information, talk to your FSIS inspector or frontline supervisor, or
visit the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov.
Under “Browse by Subject,” click on “Food Defense & Emergency Response.” On
the right side of this page click on the “Guidance Materials” button. This will
take you to the page that provides these resources. You may also call the Office
of Data Integration and Food Protection’s main number at 202-720-5643.
Emergency response is about protecting your facility, your employees, and your
Well, that’s all for this episode. We’d like your feedback on our podcast.
Or if you have ideas for future podcasts, send us an e-mail at
email@example.com. To learn more about food safety, try our web site
at www.fsis.usda.gov. Thanks
for tuning in.
Last Modified: July 15, 2009