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Flooding

Food Safety and Floods

When returning to your home after a flood you may need to evaluate the safety of food that was in your home.  If electricity has been off, the foods you keep in the refrigerator and freezer may become unsafe to eat even if they have not been contaminated by floodwater.  The following are some key points to follow:

  • If you live in an area that may flood, plan your food storage on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water.
  • Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.
  • Throw away food that has an unusual odour, colour, or texture.
  • Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.
  • Food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop bottles), twist caps, flip tops, snap-open, and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater because they cannot be disinfected.
  • If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Relabel the cans with a marker. Include the expiration date.
  • Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been in stored in a refrigerator without power for four hours if the doors have remained closed or the foods have an internal temperature above 4ºC.
  • If your chest freezer is full, foods inside should remain safely frozen for up to 48 hours after a power failure if the doors have been closed.
  • If your freezer is half full, foods inside should remain safely frozen for 24 hours after a power failure if the doors have been closed.
  • Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 4ºC or below can be refrozen or cooked.
  • Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.
  • If in doubt throw it out.

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