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You are here: Homepage > Press Room > Press Releases 2008 > Food Safety after a Storm

Published 14th November 2008, 8:4am

Disasters, such as hurricanes, can result in the loss of power which can jeopardize the safety of your food. Knowing how to determine if food is safe, and how to keep food safe will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of food borne illness. "Practicing food safety is especially vital after disasters such as Hurricane Paloma where there is lack of potable water and electricity," says Food Safety Officer Gideon Simms. "People need to do all they can to reduce their risks of getting ill after a natural disaster." Officials from the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) are asking the public to be vigilant in practicing the following food safety tips to reduce their chances of becoming ill: Food Safety Practices after a Hurricane/Disaster

  1. Practice basic sanitation.
    • Wash hands prior to handling food and after using the toilet or handling contaminated materials.
    • Use disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizers if no water is available for washing.
  2. Ensure that utensils used for food preparation are clean and safe. In the event that they have made contact with floodwater:
    • All items should be washed in detergent solution, brushed clean and rinsed in potable water and a disinfectant solution.
    • Glass, porcelain, china and plastic should be immersed in a 10% chlorine bleach solution.
    • Silverware and metal pots and pans should be boiled for 10 minutes.
    • All utensils should be washed in potable water and then air-dried.
    • Soft, porous plastic and wooden items that have come in contact with contaminated water should be discarded.
    • Storage areas such as cupboards that have been exposed to floodwater should be sanitized with a 10% bleach solution before kitchen utensils are placed in them.
  3. Discard any of the following food items if they have come into contact with floodwater:
    • Produce, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, and root vegetables.
    • Food in open containers and packages.
    • Submerged, unopened glass jars that have cardboard lid liners.
    • Jars with broken seals.
    • All food in cardboard boxes, paper foil, cellophane or cloth.
    • All food in canisters e.g. spices and staples such as sugar.
    • All cans that are dented, leaking or rusting.
    • All food that has exceeded the expiration date.
  4. Do not eat raw fruits and vegetables, use canned vegetables instead.
  5. Discard frozen or refrigerated items if they have been stored at room temperature for more than two hours; especially meats, poultry, seafood, milk products, soft cheeses, eggs, and prepared food.
  6. Discard food items that have grown mould, have an unusual odour or an unusual appearance.
  7. Cook food thoroughly to temperatures of at least 70 degrees C, particularly meat, poultry and seafood.
  8. As far as possible ensure that food is served as soon as it is prepared, while the food is still hot.
  9. Ensure that food which is not consumed right away is either kept hot (at or above 68 degrees C) or cold (at or below 5 degrees C).
  10. If food is to be reheated, ensure that all parts of the food are thoroughly heated to a temperature of at least 70 degrees C.
  11. To eliminate the possibility of cross contamination, never let raw and cooked foods come into contact with each other.
    • Raw and cooked foods should be prepared in different areas.
    • Utensils used with raw food should not be used for cooked food.
    • Hands and utensils should be thoroughly washed after handling raw food and before handling cooked food.
  12. All persons involved with food preparations need to wash their hands frequently during food preparation, after every interruption and before handling different types of foods.
  13. All persons preparing food should ensure that all small cuts and abrasions are covered with a waterproof bandage; additionally gloves may be worn as an extra precaution. Individuals with infected wounds should not be preparing and handling food.
  14. Ensure that the food preparation area is free of animals such as pet cats, dogs, birds etc.
  15. Keep all food preparation areas clean. Ensure that all food spills are immediately cleaned and that surfaces are cleaned frequently, including floors.
For more information concerning food safety, contact DEH at 949-6696.