Harrisburg – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today urged farmers and consumers to take precautionary food safety measures following severe flooding and power outages caused by remnants of the depression tropical Ida.
“When inclement weather strikes, the first thing we want to do is protect our families,” Secretary Redding said. “Part of staying safe is recognizing the impact of flooding and power outages on food. Water quality and temperature control can make the difference between consuming safe foods and foods that cause foodborne illness. violent strikes. “
Redding offered the following tips to help families minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses due to power outages or flooding:
- Drink only bottled water in the event of a flood. Follow the boil water advisories issued by your local municipalities.
- Thoroughly wash all metal pots, ceramic dishes and utensils that come in contact with flood water with hot, soapy water and sanitize them by boiling them in clean water or submerging them for 15 minutes in a solution of one teaspoon of bleach per liter of water.
- The products can be used safely if they have not been in contact with flood water.
If items have been submerged in flood water, discard:
- Home canned food.
- All foods in cardboard boxes, foil, foil, cellophane or cloth.
- Meat, poultry, eggs or fish.
- Spices, seasonings, extracts, flour, sugar, grains, coffee and other staples in cans.
- Unopened jars with waxed cardboard seals, like mayonnaise and salad dressing. Also throw away paraffin sealed cans.
- Throw away any fruit and vegetables that have not been harvested from the gardens and have been submerged by flood water.
- Wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, bottle nipples and nipples.
If objects have been submerged in flood water, keep:
- Commercial canned foods that have come into contact with flood water and have been properly cleaned by: labeling the cans with the name of the food in a permanent marker; removal of labels; wash the cans in water containing detergent; soak the cans for at least one minute in a chlorine solution; rinse with clean, cool water; place on sides to dry (do not stack boxes).
- Dishes and glassware if disinfected by boiling them in clean water or soaking them for 15 minutes in a solution of one teaspoon of bleach per liter of water.
- If in doubt, throw it out.
During power outages:
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures. Every time the door is opened, the temperatures rise dramatically.
- Refrigerators will keep food cool for about four hours if left unopened. A full freezer will maintain the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed).
- Food is safe to refreeze if it still contains ice crystals or if it is 40 degrees or below.
- Never taste food to determine its safety.
- Use dry or block ice to keep refrigerators and freezers as cold as possible during prolonged power outages. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a full 18 cubic foot freezer for two days.
- If the power has been off for several days, check the freezer temperature with an appliance thermometer or a food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or less, the food is safe.
- If a thermometer was not kept in the freezer, check each food package to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
- Throw away refrigerated perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli products after four hours without electricity.
Food businesses experiencing flooding or power outages should contact their food inspector for advice or visit the Food Safety and Laboratory Services Bureau Emergency Response webpage.
For more information, contact the Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services at 1-866-366-3723 or visit agriculture.pa.gov.
For information on emergency preparedness, visit www.readypa.org.
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