Food & Water Safety

If you’ve just experienced a disaster or emergency, it’s important to take steps to prevent illness from unsafe food and water.

The Food & Drug Administration provides the following guidance on Saving Undamaged Food Packages Exposed to Flood Water:
Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and “retort pouches” (like flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved if you follow this procedure.

  • Remove the labels, if they are the removable kind, since they can harbor dirt and bacteria.
  • Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt.
  • Thoroughly wash the cans or retort pouches with soap and water, using hot water if it is available.
  • Rinse the cans or retort pouches with water that is safe for drinking, if available, since dirt or residual soap will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine sanitation.
  • Sanitize cans and retort pouches by immersion in one of the two following ways:
  • (1) Place in water and allow the water to come to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes.

    (2) Place in a solution of 1 cup (8 oz/250 mL) of unscented household (5.25% concentration) bleach mixed with 5 gallons of water and soak for 15 minutes.

Air dry cans or retort pouches for a minimum of 1 hour before opening or storing. If the labels were removable, then re-label your cans or retort pouches, including the expiration date, with a permanent marking pen. Food in reconditioned cans or retort pouches should be used as soon as possible thereafter.

Foods not in all-metal cans or “retort pouches” should be thrown away if in contact with flood or storm water; perishable foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages; and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells, and tastes normal. When in doubt, throw it out.

Water: Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water.

Food & Water Safety During Power Outages and Flood

Keeping Food Safe After a Flood

Eat Safe Food

Drink Safe Water

Well Disinfection Guidelines

Protect Your Private Water Supply

Disinfecting Small Volumes of Water

Disinfection of wells

DEQ Disinfecting Fact Sheet