Flooding in Food Establishments
The first decision a food establishment owner needs to make is whether ornot they will remain open. Flood waters can contain rotting food, feces,chemicals, and disease-causing organisms which will contaminate the operation and easily cause foodborne illnesses. If flooding is contained and can be quickly corrected, the facility may remain open. If any food storage, prep, or service area is at risk of contamination and it cannot be quickly corrected, the facility must close. If flooding cannot be immediately contained and cleaned up, the facility must close until it can.
If the facility has flooded: call the city building inspector to determine the safety of the structure, call utility companies to assure the safety of gas, electric and the telephone; call a well contractor to come disinfect if you have a contaminated well; call your property insurance company to file a possible claim; call your local health department for response and clean-up advice. Be sure to consult a professional company for clean-up services after a flood.
Discard ALL food that has been in direct contact with flood waters and anything that cannot be washed and sanitized. When in doubt, throw it out. Discard items such as: foods in porous paper, plastic or cellophane packaging that became wet (boxes or bags of flour, cereal, mixes, rice, salt); containers with screw tops, corks, crowns, caps or pull tabs that became wet (glass/plastic containers of ketchup, dressings, milk, mayonnaise, sauces, and beverages); rusted, pitted, dented, swollen or leaking canned goods; exposed bulk foods, fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish and eggs; and contaminated single service items. Salvage all foods not exposed to flood water. Save undamaged canned goods that have been handled with the following procedure: remove paper label, wash with soap and water, rinse, sanitize with sanitizer solution, air dried, relabeled with permanent marker.
If restaurant employees are involved in the clean-up work, the following guidelines are important to protect their safety and health: If mold problems are identified, wear a properly fitted mask that carries the N-95 designation from NIOSH. Wear eye protection, rubber boots, rubber gloves, and outer protective clothing when handling items contaminated with flood water. Use a barrier to isolate a small flooded area to keep customers and employees from walking through, being exposed to, and spreading contamination. Wash your hands thoroughly after working in the contaminated area.
General cleaning for hard or non-porous surfaces such as floors, walls and equipment is recommended as follows: remove all mud, silt or other solids and then remove excess water; use a stiff brush, water, detergent, and disinfectant to scrub floors followed by a clean water rinse. Then disinfect with a sanitizing solution. Wash or discard linens, mops and apparel that has been contaminated by the event or during clean-up. Discard porous, soft, absorbent or other un-cleanable items and discard any exposed item that cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
When completed, call the Mason County Health Department for a pre-opening inspection. All of this information is in our Flip Chart for Emergency Procedures and is available by request. There are also emergency procedures for a boil order, fire response, power outage, sewage eruption and illness policies. If you would like a copy or more information, please contact MCHD.