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Food Safety in a Disaster . Adapted by: Jason M. Behrends, Ph.D., CCS Mississippi State University. Course Work. Module I Facts About Food and Floods Module II Preparing Food During a Power Failure Module III Meal Preparation and Food Safety After a Flood. Module I.

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Food Safety in a Disaster

Adapted by: Jason M. Behrends, Ph.D., CCS

Mississippi State University


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Course Work

  • Module I

    • Facts About Food and Floods

  • Module II

    • Preparing Food During a Power Failure

  • Module III

    • Meal Preparation and Food Safety After a Flood


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Module I

  • Is Food Safe to Eat?

    • Contact with flood water

    • Contact with water from broken pipes

  • Module 1

    • Identifies safe food


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Module I

  • Undamaged canned foods may be saved

  • Cleaning methods

    • Label with permanent ink

    • Remove paper labels

    • Wash and scrub

    • Soak in bleach

    • Air dry

  • Dispose can if contacted with waste

    • When in doubt, THROW IT OUT!


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Module I

  • Pantry/Fresh foods should be disposed if contacted by flood water.

  • Flood water may carry sewage, oil, or other wastes.

  • If left out, cold foods should be trashed.


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Module I

  • Water for Drinking, Cooking, or Cleaning

    • Consider all water unsafe!

    • Public Announcements

    • Boil Water to prevent contamination by:

      • Viruses

      • Bacteria

      • Parasites

    • Contact local health department


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Module I

  • Discard these products

    • Fresh produce

    • Jarred foods

    • Containers with:

      • Cork

      • Wax

      • Pap tops

      • Peel off tops

      • Wax seals

    • Cardboard boxes

    • Canned foods if:

      • Dented

      • Rusted

      • Leaking

      • Bulging

      • Home-canned

    • Spices/seasonings

    • Open containers

    • Dry goods and stables


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Module I

  • Consumer Tips

    • Cold foods <40F

    • Hot foods >140F

    • Perishable foods out < 2hrs.

    • Keep it clean


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Module I

  • Power outage

    • 2-3 hrs. in refrigerator

    • Freezer

      • Full freezer – 2 days

      • Half-full – 1 day

      • Safe to refreeze with ice crystals


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Module I

  • Power Outage

    • Don’t rely on appearance

    • Bacteria multiplies after 2 hrs. at room temp.

      Discard these after two hours above 40F

    • Raw meat

    • Milk/cream, yogurt, soft cheese

    • Cooked pasta

    • Eggs

    • Meat pizza/lunch meat

    • Casseroles

    • Soups

    • Mayonnaise

    • Cookie dough

    • Cream-filled pastries


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Module I

  • Foods generally safe above 40F after a few days

    • Butter/margarine

    • Fresh fruits/vegetables

    • Dried fruits

    • Jelly, sauces

    • Hard cheeses

  • Discard due to signs of mold or odor

  • Higher temps. = Faster spoilage rate


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Module I

  • Clean the kitchen

    • Scrub and sanitize

      • Chlorine solution

    • Sanitize dishes and glassware

      • Boil metal utensils

    • Discard wooden and plastic utensils

      • Including baby bottle nipples and pacifiers

      • These absorb and hide bacteria

    • Wash linens in hot water

      • Use chlorine bleach


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Module II

  • During Power Failure

    • Change cooking and eating habits

      • No heat

      • No refrigeration

      • Limited water

    • Health risks from contaminated or spoiled food may increase


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Module II

  • When preparing food during a power outage, follow these guidelines:

    • Save Fuel

    • Conserve Water

    • Observe Health Precautions

    • Freezer and Refrigerator Food Safety


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Module II

  • Save Fuel

    • Cook time

      • Choose foods that cook quickly

      • Use no-cook (ready to eat) meals

    • Alternative cooking options

      • Fireplace

      • Hot plates

      • Candle warmers

      • Camp stoves


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Module II

  • Frozen foods

    • Do not cook unless enough heat is available

    • Require more heat than canned goods

    • Leave in freezer if power is off

  • Canned foods

    • Commercially canned foods can be eaten from the can

    • Do not use home canned without boiling for ten minutes


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Module II

  • Conserve Water

    • Save liquids from canned vegetables.

      • Use these liquids fro water in cooked dishes.

    • Drain and save juices from canned fruits.

      • Use the juices for water in salads and drinks.


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Module II

  • Observe Health Precautions

    • Boil water used for cooking for 10 min.

    • Without refrigeration:

      • Open only enough for one meal

      • Some can be kept shortly without refrigeration

      • Packaged survival foods are safe

      • Do not serve foods that spoil easily

        • Ex:

          • Meats

          • Hash

          • Custards

          • Meat pies


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Module II

  • Do not use fresh milk

    • Canned milk keeps safe for hours

    • For baby’s milk pen a fresh can for each bottle

    • Use only disinfected water to mix powdered milk

    • W/o safe water, use canned or bottles juices


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Module II

  • Food Preparation

    • Eat foods in their original containers

    • This eliminates sanitation and dishwashing issues


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Module II

  • Food Safety of Frozen Foods

    • Anticipating power failure or flood

      • Set refrigerator and freezer to coldest

    • If water enters freezer

      • Dispose of all foods not sealed airtight


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Module II

  • Keep Freezer Closed!

    • Food may last 2-3 days

    • Well insulated 4 cu.ft.freezer food will not spoil in <3 days

    • 12-36 cu. Ft. freezer food will not spoil in <5 days or longer

    • Open freezer only to move food or add dry ice.


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Module II

  • Thawing Rate

    • When closed most freezers will stay below 40F for 3 days

    • Thawing rate depends on:

      • Amount in freezer

      • Type of food

      • Temperature of food

      • Insulation of the freezer

      • Size of freezer

  • Do not put hot foods in freezer

    • Cover and dispose of in 2 hrs.


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Module II

  • Emergency measures

    • KEEP DOOR CLOSED

    • Move food to locker plant if possible

      • Check with plant

      • Wrap and store in cooler

      • Rush food to plant

      • Make preparations with plant in advance of an emergency


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Module II

  • If locker plant is not available

    • Leave in freezer and cover freezer

    • Do not cover air vents

    • Use dry ice

    • Can the food


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Module II

  • When food has thawed

    • Food quality is diminished

    • Red meats are affected less

    • Food may be refrozen if ice crystals are present

    • If temp. > 40F, throw away


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Module II

  • Treating thawed foods:

    • Fruits

      • Refreeze if still good

      • Fruit starting to ferment is safe

    • Frozen dinners

      • Do not refreeze if thawed


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Module II

  • Vegetables

    • Do not refreeze if thawed

    • Bacteria multiply rapidly

    • Spoilage begins before odor is present

    • Refreeze only if ice crystals are present in package

    • When in doubt, THROW IT OUT!


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Module II

  • Meat and Poultry

    • Unsafe when they start to spoil

    • Discard if odor is present

    • Discard above 40F

    • Discard stuffed poultry

    • Immediately cooked unspoiled meat or poultry

    • Cooked meat can be refrozen


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Module II

  • Fish and Shellfish

    • Extremely perishable

    • Do not refreeze unless ice crystals are present throughout


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Module II

  • Dry Ice in a Power Failure

    • Helps prevent spoiling

    • More dry ice = longer the food stays frozen

    • Expensive/ hard to find

    • Locate a source before a disaster

    • Can be located from:

      • Dairy

      • Cold storage warehouse

      • Power company can locate a source


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Module II

  • Dry Ice Usage

    • Handling and usage guidelines:

      • Wear gloves

      • 2-3 lbs./cu.ft.

      • Move products from freezing compartment to storage area.

      • Put board or cardboard on top of food

      • Put dry ice on top of boards


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Module II

  • Dry Ice Usage

    • Cover Freezer

    • Do not block air vents

    • Open windows or doors to let gas escape


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Module II

  • Safety of Refrigerated Food After a Power Failure

    • Meats, poultry, and seafood should be left out no longer than 2 hrs.

    • If leaving home without ice

      • Take cold salad ingredients

      • Eat upon arrive

      • Throw leftovers away


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Module II

  • Safety of Refrigerated Food After a Power Failure

    • Cook all unspoiled meat immediately and keep above 140F

    • Large pieces will not spoil as easily

    • Sausage is easily contaminated

    • Raw chopped meats spoil quickly

      • Dispose after 12 hours with no power

      • Do not trust your sense of smell


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Module II

  • Safety of Refrigerated Food After a Power Failure

    • Milk spoils quickly

      • Throw it out

      • Use for baking

    • Creamed foods and chopped meats spoil quickly and can easily cause foodborne illness.

    • Any product high in protein and moisture should not be transported without ice


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Module III

  • Food Preparation Safety After a Flood

    • Contaminated foods

    • Food to discard

    • Other packaged foods

    • Foods to keep

    • Disinfecting cans and glass jars

    • How much bleach to use for purifying water

    • Flooded garden produce

    • Immature produce

    • Mature produce

    • Produce disinfecting measures


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Module III

  • Flood-Contaminated Foods

    • Floodwaters carry:

      • Silt

      • Raw sewage

      • Oil

      • Chemical wastes

      • Bacteria

    • Thoroughly examine all food

      • When in doubt, throw it out!


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Module III

  • Food to Discard

    • Opened containers

    • Unopened jars with waxy seals

    • Seasonings/spices

    • Flour, grains, and sugars

    • Paper box products

    • Dented cans


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Module III

  • Food to Discard

    • Do not try to save any of these foods:

      • Jams sealed with paraffin

      • Containers with non-sealed lids

      • Bottled beverages

      • Foil packages

      • Fresh fruits and vegetables

      • Home canned foods


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Module III

  • Other Packaged Foods

    • Metal drums/wooden barrels

      • Examine for leaks

      • Destroy containers

    • Examine foil or cellophane containers

      • Discard if :

        • Caked inside

        • Stained

        • Any evidence of water contamination


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Module III

  • Food to Keep

    • Safe food:

      • Undamaged tin cans

        Boil cans for extra safety

      • Potatoes

        • Wash and sanitize

        • Dry and peel before cooking

      • Citrus Fruits

        • Wash and sanitize

        • Peel and heat to 160F for 10 min.

      • Apples and fruits that can be sanitized and sealed


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Module III

  • Disinfecting Cans and Commercial Glass Jars

    • Must be sanitized and washed

    • Inspect and destroy if damaged

    • Remove labels and all silt

    • Soak 15 min. in cold chlorine solution

    • Remove and rinse

    • Store to avoid further contamination


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Module III

  • Other ways to disinfect cans and jars

    • Immerse in sterilizing solution and rinse

    • Boil for 10 min., dry and relabel

      NOTE: Chlorine and other sterilizing solutions are poisonous. Use extreme caution.


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Module III

  • Flooded Garden Produce

    • Some produce will be unsafe to eat

    • Safety depends on

      • Kind of produce

      • Maturity of produce

      • Time of year

      • Flooding severity

      • Flood duration

      • Water bacterial content

      • Probability of other contamination


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Module III

  • Immature Produce

    • More than two weeks immature at the flooding time should be safe by ripening time

    • Disinfect and cook for additional safety before eating


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Module III

  • Mature Produce

    • Avoid using if possibly contaminated unless:

      • They can be disinfected

      • Peeled

      • Thoroughly cooked


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Module III

  • Some fruits and vegetable are more susceptible than others to bacterial contamination.

    • Leafy vegetables are highly susceptible to bacterial contamination

    • Do not pick contaminated strawberries

    • Root, bulb, and tuber crops are less likely to be contaminated

      • Disinfect , peel and cook before eating


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Module III

  • Thoroughly wash, disinfect, and cook any produce before eating.

    • Wash in strong detergent solution

    • Soak 15-20 min. in chlorine solution

    • Rinse thoroughly

    • Peel and cook



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