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Some Flooded Food Can Be Saved

Floodwaters may carry silt, raw sewage, oil or chemical waste, so you may have to discard food if it came in contact with the water.

“In general, get rid of all food not sealed in metal, airtight cans or glass jars,” says Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist.

Items you should toss include meat; poultry; fish; eggs; fresh produce; preserves sealed with wax; all foods in cardboard boxes or with cardboard seals, such as mayonnaise and salad dressing; home-canned foods; opened containers and packages; flour, sugar, grains, coffee and other staples in canisters; spices, seasonings and extracts; and food in cans that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted.

You can save food in undamaged cans if you sanitize the cans. Follow these steps to sanitize cans:

  • Mark the contents on the cans’ lid with indelible ink.
  • Remove the cans’ paper label because it can hold dangerous bacteria.
  • Wash the cans with a strong detergent solution and scrub brush.
  • Immerse the cans in a solution of 2 teaspoons of chlorine bleach per quart of room-temperature water for 15 minutes.
  • Let the cans air-dry before opening them.

Sanitize dishes and glassware that came into contact with floodwaters the same way. To disinfect metal pans and utensils, boil them in water for 10 minutes.

Discard wood spoons, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, pacifiers and other porous materials that were in floodwaters.

For more information, www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.

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