Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service "Food Safety At Home" podcast series, featuring topics for the safe handling, preparation and storage of meat, poultry and processed egg products. So, sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Lets talk about food safety after a flood.
Severe storms routinely cause power outages and increase the likelihood of flooding.
After flood waters recede, you need to determine which foods are safe to keep and which should be thrown away. Heres how:
First of all, never eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water.
Throw away any food not in a water proof container if there is the chance it came into contact with flood water, such as containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop bottles), twist caps, flip tops, and home canned foods should be discarded because they cannot be cleaned and sanitized.
Cardboard juice and milk boxes, baby food and formula jars should also be thrown away because they can't be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
Throw away any food in damaged cans. Cans are damaged if they show signs of swelling, deep rusting, leakage, have punctures, holes or fractures, or if crushing or denting is severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual can opener.
Now, about the safety of drinking water
As with food, you can use any bottled water that has not come into contact with flood water.
If you dont have bottled water, the next best thing is to boil water to make it safe to drink. Boiling will kill most types of disease-causing organisms. If the water is cloudy, you can first filter it through clean cloths or allow the sediment to settle. Pour the clean water and boil for one minute, let it cool, and store it covered in clean containers with covers.
If boiling isnt an option, you can disinfect water with household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease- causing organisms. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow the sediment to settle. Then add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before drinking. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
If you have a well that you think was flooded or contaminated, do not drink that water until its tested. Please contact your local or State health department or agriculture extension agent for their advice first.
They could also offer advice on the safety of consuming homegrown vegetables from your garden plot.
For steps on how to salvage metal cans that come in contact with flood water, please visit
www.fsis.usda.gov and view
A Consumers Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes.
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