Food Safety News | Spring 2019

Preparing for a Natural Disaster: Foods to Stock + Foods to Toss

If your home gets hit by a hurricane, flood, earthquake, blizzard, or other natural disaster, are you ready with safe food and water to get you through it?

If not—or if you want to be certain you’re in good shape—take a few minutes now and check out our “must-dos” below to help you weather the storm.

MUST-DO #1: STOCK SAFE FOODS

Food safety is ALWAYS important. But, during and after a natural disaster, it’s even MORE important given that food products can be exposed to lots of contamination from storm water and other sources. So, it’s vital to have the right nonperishable food products on hand. Following are foods you should stock up on—they’re easy to store and consume and safe to eat without any refrigerating/cooking:

  • Ready-to-eat canned foods including tuna, chicken, vegetables, and fruits (and be sure to have a can opener handy)
  • Protein and fruit bars
  • Peanut butter
  • Crackers
  • Beef jerky
  • Nut and trail mixes
  • Instant soup mixes
  • Dry cereal and powdered milk
  • Canned juices / juice boxes
  • Granola
  • Hard candies

Our recommendation is to have in reserve enough of these foods to get you through three to four days. Be sure to consider those with special diets like babies and pets, and try to avoid salty/spicy foods that increase the need for drinking water, as an abundance of water may not be readily available.

 

MUST-DO #2: THROW OUT DAMAGED FOODS

A natural disaster can take a big toll on food so, if you get hit with one, be sure to THROW AWAY the following:

  • Food that has come in contact with storm water
  • All food and beverages that have been packaged in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, or similar containers that have been damaged by storm water
  • All food and beverage containers with screw caps, twist caps, snap lids, flip tops, and home canned foods that have come in contact with storm water
  • All perishable foods that haven’t been refrigerated properly due to power outages. Freezers, if left unopened and full during a power outage, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full)
  • Any food with an unusual color, odor, or texture

Commercially prepared cans and retort pouches can still be used if safety measures are taken. Click here for more.

And remember: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.

Never take chances because food may be contaminated with harmful pathogens even if it looks, smells, or tastes normal.

 

MUST-DO #3: STOCK + DRINK SAFE WATER ONLY

After a severe storm, hurricane, or other natural disaster, your tap water may not be safe to drink. Follow these steps to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Do NOT drink or use ANY water that’s come in contact with, and has been contaminated by, storm water
  • If your tap water has been affected, the ONLY safe water for drinking, cooking, or personal hygiene is bottled, boiled, or treated water (check with your state/local health department to determine this and receive specific recommendations for boiling/treating water in your area)
  • Stock plenty of bottled water; keep at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, including pets
  • If bottled water has been exposed to storm waters, THROW IT OUT—you’ll need to boil tap water to make it safe to drink (assuming it has been affected); the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends boiling water for three minutes

Start small if that’s easier for you, but be sure to build up your emergency stockpile with safe food and water now. Natural disasters affect millions of people each year and one could come your way anytime.

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