Food & Water safety after Flooding

Soylent Main

Recent rains which resulted by flooding in many areas, can contaminate the public water supply. Flood water can be contaminated with sewage, animal waste and other waste, from drains or the surrounding area, and so could be contaminated with harmful bacteria or chemicals. Water in the flood-affected area may not be safe to drink. However any contaminants in the water are usually very diluted and so the risks of getting ill are low. After flooding, people need to assess all food, kitchen and equipment to decide what to keep or throw away. Also following simple hygiene practices should be enough to avoid getting ill from flood water.

1. What should I throw out?

a. Meat, poultry and sea food products

b. Opened baby foods

c. Egg and prepared egg products

d. Dough and other cooked items

e. Milk and milk products

f. cooked vegetables and cut fruits

  1. Steps to follow after flood:
    1. Never taste food to determine its safety
    2. Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.
    3. Do not eat food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar containers that have been water damaged.
    4. Discard food and beverage containers with screw-caps, snap lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops, and home canned foods, if they have come in contact with flood water. These containers cannot be disinfected.

3. Keep water safe

Follow these steps to keep your WATER SAFE during and after flood conditions.

a. Only use water from a safe source for drinking and washing or preparing food.

    1. Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters, if it is available.

c. If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil or disinfect water to make it safe.

d. If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your health department for specific advice.

4. How to Boil or Disinfect Water To Make It Safe

If the water is cloudy, first filter it through clean cloths, or allow it to settle and then draw off the clear water for boiling/ disinfecting. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present.

    1. Boil the water for 1 minute.
    2. Let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.

5. Keep Food Safe

a. Follow these steps to keep your FOOD SAFE during and after flood conditions.

    1. Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water.
    2. Discard any food and beverage that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water.

i. Food containers that are waterproof include undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and “retort pouches” (like flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches).

ii. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps.

iii. Also discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.

    1. Discard any food in damaged cans . Damaged cans are those with swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting that is severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
    2. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water
    3. Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water, using hot water if available. Allow to air dry.
  1. About Food borne Illness - Know the Symptoms

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Although most people will recover from a foodborne illness within a short period of time, some can develop chronic, severe, or even life-threatening health problems.

Foodborne illness can sometimes be confused with other illnesses that have similar symptoms. The symptoms of foodborne illness can include:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache


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