Food safety after a flood or cyclone

Following an emergency such as flood, severe storm, cyclone, fire or power failure, there is a danger that any food you have may no longer be safe to eat.

It is recommended to dispose of:

– food that has come into contact with floodwater
– food that has an unusual odour, colour or texture
– refrigerated food – perishable food (including meat, poultry, fish or dairy products) that have been left unrefrigerated or above 5°C for more than 4 hours
– frozen food – after 48 hours if the freezer is full of food or after 24 hours if the freezer is only half full. If frozen food has partially thawed, the food should be eaten as soon as possible.
– canned food where the can is open, swollen or damaged, or has a missing or damaged label such that the food cannot be identified
– food containers with screw caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soft drink bottles), twist caps, and flip top lids.

If In Doubt – Throw it Out!

After a power failure

It is useful to make a note of the time the power failed.
Keep it cold!
If the power supply is off for more than 4 hours, food in refrigerators can spoil. Keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible while the power is off. A closed refrigerator should keep food cold for 4 hours. If food that’s meant to be in the refrigerator is allowed to warm for 2 hours or more, avoid eating it.
Freezers will usually not defrost and allow food to spoil for at least 24 hours, provided the door has been kept shut. If frozen foods have thawed, they should not be refrozen but should be kept cold and eaten as soon as possible.
If you have access to a good supply of ice, it is possible to pack your refrigerator and freezer to help maintain the temperatures of food.
Keep it hot!
Throw out food that was being cooked when the power failed if cooking cannot be completed properly within 2 hours: if food is already properly cooked, you should ensure it is eaten within 2 hours or thrown out.
Remember: If In Doubt – Throw it Out!