Advice for food businesses in times of flooding & power cuts

If your food business has been flooded there could be a serious risk to public health from infection and food contamination.

  • The Foods Standards Agency has issued advice on eating food after flooding 
  • Do not prepare any food or re-open until the premises have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The floodwater may be heavily contaminated with sewage, harmful bacteria and other pollutants such as oil and petrol.
  • Clean all hard surfaces – food preparation areas, surfaces, equipment, glasses, crockery, food containers, beer-lines and optics – with hot soapy water several times until visually clean, followed by washing down with a food safe disinfectant, (disinfectant or sanitiser that meets British Standard EN 1276:1997 or British Standard EN 13697:2001, this information should be found on the label of the product), adhering to manufacturers’ directions. Heavily contaminated items should be disposed of.All food that may have been contaminated must be destroyed. It must be double-bagged and placed in a sealed container so it doesn’t attract pests.
  • Contact your commercial waste contractor to arrange collection of this food in the normal way.
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves, wellingtons, overalls etc. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling anything that may be contaminated and using hot soapy water or liquid anti-bacterial soap.
  • Do not use any electrical items or circuits as these may be unsafe. The circuits and equipment must be checked by a competent person (i.e. a qualified electrician) before use.
  • If you become ill or suffer any gastric symptoms following the clean up, visit your GP as soon as possible. Nobody should handle or prepare food if they are suffering from gastric illness (symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting).

For further general information on what to do in the event of a flood, please visit the relevant section of our website.

If your food business has experienced a power cut:

  • High-risk food (such as meat, fish, dairy, egg and rice products) must be kept at or below 8ºC to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • If your refrigerators have been without power for more than four hours it is important to immediately chill the food to below 8ºC or discard the food if you cannot do so (only one single period of up to four hours out of refrigeration).
  • Provided doors are kept closed, food should remain frozen in disconnected freezers for up to 24 hours. If food has defrosted it should be safe if treated as chilled food, refrigerated and used up to within a couple of days. If frozen food has risen above 8ºC for more than four hours the food should be thrown away.
  • If you are affected by intermittent power cuts, consider using cool boxes and keep a ready supply of ice blocks. Freeze these at times when the power is on.
  • Try to avoid opening refrigerator and freezer doors when the power is off. The temperature of an open fridge rises very quickly.
  • If you are unable to keep high-risk food under adequate temperature control and /or your power is off you should close your business.