Campus News

Preparation can help keep food, water safe during severe flooding

When severe weather threatens, preparing before the storm hits can help you keep your food safe. In conjunction with National Preparedness Month, Judy Harrison, a food safety specialist with Cooperative Extension, has some tips on keeping food and water safe during flooding.

Do not eat any food—unless it is in a waterproof container—that may have come in contact with floodwater. This includes foods that are in containers with screw caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped caps. Home-canned foods and cardboard boxes containing juice, milk and baby formula also should be discarded if they come in contact with floodwater. Commercially canned food should be discarded if the metal can is damaged in any way. Examine each can and throw it away if there is evidence of swelling, leakage, extensive rusting or severe dents.

Cans not damaged can be salvaged by removing labels that could harbor germs. Thoroughly wash the cans with soap and hot water, and rinse the cans with water that is safe for drinking. Next, sanitize the cans by mixing a solution of a tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. Another way to sanitize cans is to place them in boiling water for two minutes. Allow the cans to air dry for at least one hour before opening or storing.