Residents facing the daunting task of cleaning up flooded homes and wondering whether high water or power outages have ruined their food can follow a simple rule: When in doubt, throw it out.
Once power is off, the refrigerator keeps food at safely cold temperatures for 4 hours, while food in a freezer remains safe for approximately 8 hours. If your power is off longer, your food is not safe to eat and should be discarded.
Do not consume anything that flood water may have touched. Flood water carries disease-causing organisms.
Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.Do not eat food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar containers that have been water damaged.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.Undamaged, commercially-prepared foods in all-metal cans or retort pouches can be saved if you remove the labels, thoroughly wash the cans, rinse them, and then disinfect them with a sanitizing solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of potable water. Finally, re-label containers that had the labels removed, including the expiration date, with a marker. Discard any canned foods that are dented as this can increase the risk of contracting botulism, a rare but very serious illness.
For more information, please go to www.fda.gov.