UDSA releases food safety recommendations for Harvey victims
PHOTO: Catastrophic Flooding in Houston Texas from Tropical Storm Harvey, Photo Date: 8/27/17
Among the issues that should be at the front of mind for victims of Hurricane Harvey is food safety. As power outages continue to cover the Coastal Bend in darkness, food borne illness remains a distinctive and timely concern for those suffering the storm's aftermath.
Keep refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. After 4 hours, a refrigerator will no longer keep food at a proper temperature. A full freezer will keep its contents cold for only about 48 hours or less (24 hours if only half-full).
Meat and poultry should be placed to one side of the freezer or on a tray that prevents its thawing juices from contaminating other foodstuffs.
Dry or block ice can be used to keep freezers and refrigerators as cold as possible during extended power outages. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully stocked freezer cold for about two days.
For many residents, those timelines have already passed. In these cases:
Discard any perishable food (meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more.
Check each item for temperature separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
Check frozen food for ice crystals. Food with crystals or food at 40 degrees or below may be refrozen safely.
Never taste a food to decide if it is safe.
When in doubt, throw it out.
Do not eat any food that has come into contact with flood water. This includes raw fruits and vegetables, cartons of milk or eggs.
Discard any food not in a secure waterproof container if there is any chance it came into contact with flood water. Plastic wrap or cardboard, items with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped caps are not safe containers. Flood water can get into any of these containers and contaminate the food inside. Discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home-canned foods if they've come into contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage includes swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening of the can with a manual, wheel-type can opener.