MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis

MissouriFamilies.org - Food Safety

 

Food Safety Feature Articles

 

After a flood, think food safety

Writer: Curt Wohleber, University of Missouri Extension; Story source: Londa Nwadike, Food Safety Specialist, Kansas State University and University of Missouri Extension

 

Floods can devastate property and have lasting effects on a community. In the aftermath, people might not think about the consequences flooding can have on food.

 

Floodwater often contains sewage or animal waste that could contaminate foods with harmful organisms, says Londa Nwadike, food safety specialist for University of Missouri Extension and Kansas State Research and Extension.

 

Organisms in floodwater might include pathogens like E. coli and salmonella, which can cause foodborne illness.

 

“Floodwaters might also contain petroleum products such as gasoline and oil, which can cause nausea, vomiting and other short- and long-term effects if consumed in large quantities,” she said.

 

When in doubt, throw it out

 

The only foods you can keep after exposure to floodwater are commercially prepared foods in undamaged metal cans and retort pouches. Retort pouches are used to package items such as shelf-stable juices.

 

“All other foods exposed to floodwater should be thrown away,” Nwadike said.

 

This includes food in the refrigerator and freezer, as well as all foods in boxes, paper, foil or cloth. Also dispose of spices, seasonings and extracts. Throw away any home-canned foods exposed to floodwater, as it is difficult to properly disinfect the seals.

 

Toss out flooded foods stored in open containers, packages or canisters, as well as foods with caps and pull-tabs, such as condiments and soft drinks.

 

Clean and disinfect

 

Don’t open cans or retort pouches until you have sanitized them. Remove labels and note the contents with a permanent marker. Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt. Wash the containers thoroughly with soap and water, then rinse.

 

You can sanitize cans and retort pouches by two methods. The first method is to put them in a bleach solution for 15 minutes. Use 1 tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach for every gallon of water. The second method is to place them in continuously boiling water for two minutes, then air-dry.

 

Thoroughly wash all metal and ceramic utensils and cookware with hot, soapy water. Then rinse and disinfect by boiling in clean water or immerse for 15 minutes in a bleach solution.

 

Throw away all dishes with deep cracks. Plastic cookware, utensils, plates, dishes, cups, and wooden utensils and bowls can’t be disinfected, so get rid of them. Plastic baby bottles, nipples and storage containers must also be pitched.

 

For more information

 

 


University of Missouri logo links to http://extension.missouri.edu

Site Administrator:
mofamweb@missouri.edu
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity


MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri


Last update: Thursday, May 04, 2017