Food safety advice for people affected by flooding
Monday 17 December 2007
If you have been affected by flooding, either because your home has been flooded, or your water supply has been cut off, read our tips on how to prepare food safely.
- Don’t eat any food that has been touched or covered by floodwater or sewage.
- Always wash your hands before preparing food.
- Clean and disinfect work surfaces, plates, pans, cutlery, chopping boards etc. before using them with food. If you have a working dishwasher, this is a more efficient way to clean and sanitise smaller items. Or use a suitable disinfectant.
- Clean and disinfect the inside of your fridge and food cupboards, if they have been touched by floodwater.
- Don’t use work surfaces, plates etc. if they are badly chipped or damaged.
- If tap water may be contaminated, boil and cool it before using it to wash food that won’t be cooked, such as fruit or salad.
- If your power has been cut off and your fridge has not been working for a few hours, throw away the food inside. If your freezer has not been working, throw away any meat, fish or dairy products, or foods containing these, if they have started to get soft. Also throw away any food that you would eat frozen, for example ice cream.
- Store opened food in a box with a lid.
- Don’t eat any food grown on an allotment that has been flooded.
- If you have a catering business and have been affected by flooding, ask for advice from the environmental health service at your local authority.
If your drinking water supply is either interrupted or contaminated by the flooding and you need to prepare formula feed for a baby, it is important to be careful with the water you use. Here are some tips on preparing formula safely.
- Ideally use water from a bowser (a water tank provided by water companies), or bottled water, brought to a ‘rolling’ boil and left covered to cool for no more than half an hour, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions on making up the feed. The use of unboiled bowser water should be avoided.
- Use cooled boiled water or bottled water for cooling the feed once it has been made up.
- Ready-to-feed liquid formula could be used instead.
- If there is no electricity or gas to allow boiling and you don’t have ready-to-feed liquid formula available, bottled water (table, spring or mineral water) can be used without boiling to prepare baby feeds, but the prepared feed should then be used immediately.
- Some bottled water labelled as 'natural mineral water' may have high levels of sodium. When buying bottles of natural mineral water, look at the label and check that the figure for sodium or 'Na' is not higher than 200mg a litre. If it is, then try to use another water. If no other water is available, then use this water for as short a time as possible.