When in doubt, throw it out.
Contaminated food may be a problem after any storm involving flooding. Floodwaters may carry silt, raw sewage, oil or hazardous chemical wastes. Harmful bacteria and the filth in floodwater will make food unsafe to eat.
Inspect any food left in the house after a flood. Floodwater may have covered it, dripped on it or seeped into it. Even though some foods are protected by their containers, if you are in doubt about the safety of a food, throw it out rather than risk disease.
For infants, use only pre-prepared, canned baby formula that doesn¹t require added water, unless you are absolutely sure your water is safe to drink.
Use the following guidelines when deciding which foods to discard and which to save.
- Opened containers and package.
- Unopened jars and bottles with paper seals such as those containing mayonnaise or salad dressing.
- Containers of spices, seasonings and flavorings.
- Flour, sugar and coffee or other loose items stored in canisters with non-sealed, fitted lids.
- Paper, foil, cellophane, cloth, fiber or cardboard boxes &SHY; even if the contents seem dry. This includes salt, cereals, pasta products, rice and any "sealed" packages of crackers or cookies within a larger paper box.
- Dented, bulging or leaking canned goods. Seams on these cans may have been weakened or their seals broken, causing contamination or spoilage.
- All fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Fresh meat, fish, poultry and eggs.
- Home-canned foods, even if the jar seems tightly sealed.
The following foods are safe if you wash and sanitize containers before use:
- Undamaged commercially canned goods. For added safety, boil food before using. Wash and sanitize container before opening the can.
To wash and sanitize cans before they are opened:
- Remove labels first because they can harbor harmful bacteria.
- Mark the contents on the can with a permanent ink marker.
- Wash cans in a strong detergent solution with a scrub brush.
- Immerse scrubbed containers for 15 minutes in a chlorine solution of two teaspoons of chlorine bleach per quart of room temperature water.
- Remove containers from solution, and air-dry before opening. Use as soon as possible, since containers may rust.
- Cook foods thoroughly before eating them.