A flood can impact food facilities in a wide variety of ways.  In order to ensure that you are protecting the health of your employees and customers, follow these steps prior to resuming operation to help reduce the risk of food borne illness.

Self-Inspection Checklist

Prior to reopening, the person-in-charge (PICs) should complete the DEHQ self-inspection checklist to ensure that normal operations can be resumed safely and without compromising food safety. Facilities required to cease operations during an emergency should not re-open until written approval is provided from the Department of Environmental Health and Quality.

When in doubt, throw it out!

Discard any food that:

  • Has come in contact with, or been submerged, in flood waters.  This includes packaged products unless the food is in a waterproof container or in a hermetically sealed can that has not been damaged and is not swelling or leaking, and does not have any holes, fractures, rusting, severe dents, or bulging. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screwcaps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps, and cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes.  Note: Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans or retort pouches can be saved if you remove the labels that can come off, thoroughly wash, rinse and sanitize the cans/pouches, and re-label the containers with the contents and expiration.
  • Has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • Has been exposed to any other sources of contamination.
  • Is thawed, has risen to above 41°F, and remained there for two (2) hours or more.  Note: All potentially hazardous foods must be evaluated for proper temperatures. Bacteria can multiply rapidly on potentially hazardous foods that have been at room temperature (above 41°F) for more than two (2) hours.
  • Has not been rapidly cooled prior to the flood impact to the facility.

Cleanup Guidelines

  • Employees should thoroughly wash their hands during and after cleanup to prevent the spread of illness.
  • Use protective clothing and equipment as needed, especially when handling chemicals.
  • Eliminate all trash, contaminated foods, and pests prior to cleaning. Be cautious of spilled or leaking chemicals, such as chlorine bleach, and use protective equipment.
  • Completely clean and dry floors, walls, and ceilings to prevent mold or mildew. If mold or mildew are found, remediate the mold or mildew.
  • Thoroughly wash, rinse, and sanitize all food contact surfaces, including prep tops, cutting boards, sinks, pans, dishes, utensils (including can openers) and allow to air dry.
  • Thoroughly wash, rinse, and sanitize all non-food contact surfaces including countertops, inside and outside of equipment, floors, and walls that were in contact with flood water.
  • Discard ice in ice machines and thoroughly clean and sanitize the machine. Replace ice machine filters and beverage filters and flush water lines.

Additional Resources