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After the flood: food safety





SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 08, 2011
CONTACT: Bill Chalcraft, 773-3361
 
After the flood: food safety
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakotans in flood-affected areas need to keep food safety in mind as they deal with cleanup issues, says the state Department of Health.
In general, consumers should not eat any food that has come in contact with floodwater. If the safety of any food or beverage is questionable, follow one simple rule – when in doubt, throw it out.
Canned and bottled goods that have been submerged or come in contact with floodwater need to be carefully examined. Some may be safe to use after a good cleaning. The department offers the following recommendations:
  • Discard containers with cork-lined lids or caps, screw tops or pop tops. The openings of such containers are nearly impossible to clean thoroughly after being under water.
  • Tin cans that appear undamaged are usually safe. Wash in bleach water (1/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon water) for one minute, and then dry to prevent rusting.
  • Throw out tin cans with pitted rust spots that can’t be buffed off with a soft cloth. Contamination can enter through rusted holes in the walls of the can.
  • Throw out cans with ends that bulge or spring in and out when pressed. This usually means bacteria are growing inside and producing gas that expands the can. Do not taste the contents.
  • Throw out cans with very sharp dents or creases – such dents may weaken the seam and allow contamination.
Flood-related power outages can also present risks to food safety. When the electricity is off, a fully stocked freezer will keep food frozen two days if the door remains closed while a refrigerator can keep food safely cold for four to six hours. Throw away any frozen foods that have thawed. High-protein foods (dairy, meat, fish, poultry) cannot be stored safely at room temperature and should be thrown away if they cannot be eaten immediately.
More information on flood cleanup is available at http://disasterrecovery.sd.gov.
Effectively managing public health emergencies is a key objective of the department’s Health 2020 initiative.
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