FEMA Accessible: USDA Food Safety After a Disaster


Hello, my name is Chris Bernstein,
and I am the Director of Food Safety Education at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). I’m here today to talk to you about food safety
for returning home after a disaster. Coming back home after a disaster
can be a very challenging experience. One of the most important things you
and your family will have to do is sort through the food in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. You will need to throw away any food that
has come into contact with flood water. This includes anything that is not in a waterproof
container. Do not use food containers
that have caps, snap lips, or pull tops that have come in contact with flood water. Any cardboard boxed food, such as
macaroni and cheese, dry pasta, baby formula, contaminated with flood water
is not safe to eat and should be tossed. Inspect all canned food to see if there is
any swelling, leaking, holes, dents, or rust. Canned food can be saved and used to eat
only if you do the following things: Remove the label off the can. Brush or wipe away any dirt. Thoroughly wash the can with soap and water
(hot water if available). Use water that is safe for drinking
to rinse off the can. Sanitize the can in either one of two ways: Put the can in a clean pot full of water
and bring to a complete boil for 2 minutes; or put the can in a clean pot full of clean drinking water and add one tablespoon of unscented
liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water used. Soak can in pot for 15 minutes. Let can air-dry for at least one hour before
opening or storing can. Write with a permanent marker on the can
what is inside and the expiration date (if available). Canned food items should be used
as soon as possible after cleaning. You will also need to clean
your pots, pans, dishes, and utensils thoroughly washing them with
soap and water (hot water if available). Rinse and sanitize them
by boiling them in clean water or immersing them in clean drinking water and add one tablespoon of unscented liquid
chlorine bleach per gallon of water used. Soak in water for 15 minutes. Your drinking water may not be safe to drink
when you come home after a disaster. You may need to use bottled water or boiled water. If you do not have bottled water, boil the
water for one minute before letting it cool down. Store the water in clean containers with lids. If you are not able to boil water,
you can disinfect it by using household bleach. This will help to kill most organisms
in the water that might cause diseases. Add 8 drops (or 1/8 teaspoon)
of regular, unscented liquid household bleach for each gallon of water to disinfect your water. Leave water alone for 30 minutes. Store the water in clean containers with lids. These safety tips should help you figure out
what food you can save or have to throw away, how to clean your pots, pans, dishes, and utensils and how to make sure that your water is safe to drink. For more information on food safety, visit
USDA’s website at www.fsis.usda.gov. Thank you.

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