Foodsafetyafteraflood.cfm Food safety after a flood
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Food safety after a flood

The Kansas Department of Agriculture's food safety program advises extreme caution after a flood. Food, dishes, water, or anything that goes into someone's mouth, may appear harmless, but probably is not. Flood water can carry silt, raw sewage, oil or chemical wastes, and even a few drips can contaminate whatever is touched.

Discard everything edible, except undamaged commercial canned goods--and these must be properly cleaned before using. Discard unopened glass jars, flip-top cans, bottled water and juices and plastic-wrapped packages as well as fresh produce, spices, food stored in canisters, baby food, bagged pet food and home canned goods. Discard porous dishes and other items that might go into someone's mouth, including baby bottles, nipples and pacifiers; wooden bowls; plastic dishes and cups; foam, and paper products. If properly cleaned, you can save metal canned goods if the cans are free of dents and rust; glass, china, and metal dishes, containers and utensils. To properly clean you will need a strong detergent, household chlorine bleach and clean, uncontaminated water:

--Remove paper labels.

--Wash in strong detergent solution.

--Use a brush to remove all silt.

--Immerse in lukewarm solution of chlorine for one minute. (Use 1 tablespoon of household chlorine bleach to each gallon of water.)

--Allow to thoroughly air-dry. Re-label cans with permanent marker.

Before you clean up, however, listen for public announcements on the safety of the municipal water supply. Flooded private water wells will need to be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. For more detailed guidance, visit


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