Departmental (media releases)
24 April 2015
NSW residents impacted by power failures and floods as a result of the recent storms are being urged to be careful when handling food.
NSW Food Authority Chief Scientist, Lisa Szabo, said eating unsafe food may cause serious illness.
"The main dangers are spoiled food due to loss of refrigeration during a power failure, and contamination of food and utensils with floodwaters,’ said Dr Szabo.
"The key advice from the NSW Food Authority is - if in doubt, throw it out.
"All floodwater needs to be treated as potentially contaminated with sewage.
"It is critical to practice basic hygiene - wash hands thoroughly in soap and clean water, or with an alcohol gel, after handling any flood-affected items and before handling food," said Dr Szabo.
The NSW Food Authority recommends the following for those affected by power failures or flooding:
- If power is cut for more than 4 hours, foods in refrigerators will spoil. Perishable foods (eg. dairy products, meat, poultry, prepared foods etc) should be disposed of if un-refrigerated for more than four hours.
- Freezers will generally not defrost and spoil for at least 24 hours if the door has been kept shut. Frozen foods if thawed, should NOT be refrozen and should be kept cold and consumed within 24 hours.
- Throw out food that comes into contact with floodwater, or has an unusual odour or texture. Do not taste or cook it.
- Check canned food and discard cans that are dented, swollen or damaged.
- Tap water may be used for drinking and food preparation if the local water supply authority has indicated that supplies are safe for consumption.
- Dishes, pots and pans, and cutlery that have been covered by floodwater should be carefully inspected, washed and sanitised before they are used again.
- Discard leafy green produce from vegetable gardens that may have come into contact with floodwater.
See also: Food safety in emergencies