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National Restaurant Association - After the hurricane, follow these USDA guidelines

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After the hurricane, follow these USDA guidelines

During and after a natural disaster, like Hurricane Florence, potential health concerns can occur. Retail and foodservice businesses may have to shut down in the event of power outages, flooding, water contamination or structural damage. Those actions could affect a foodservice operation’s food supply and cause continuing damage.

Here are 14 tips from the USDA’s guidelines on how to reopen your business after weather emergencies or natural disasters:

  1. Before reopening, establishment persons-in-charge should conduct complete self-inspections to ensure resumption of normal, safe operations.
  2. If your electrical service is interrupted or potable water supply compromised, evaluate your facilities and inventory to determine whether you can serve safe food.
  3. If food comes into contact with flood water, consider it contaminated. Destroy and discard that food in accordance with local or state laws and regulations.
  4. Establishments forced to close during an emergency or natural disaster should not reopen until authorization is granted by the local regulatory authority.
  5. Foodservice operators should notify the health department before reopening for business. A temporary or conditional operating license or permit might be considered if all public utilities aren’t available.
  6. Follow all applicable provisions of the state Food Code or local ordinance as usual.
  7. The complete reinstatement of all public utilities is necessary before full-service operations that cook, cool and reheat foods on the premises can reopen.
  8. If no potable municipal water supply, non-community public water system or private well water is available, bring in potable water for food preparation, cooking, and utensil and food-contact surface washing/rinsing/sanitizing and handwashing.
  9. If no electricity is available for refrigeration and frozen storage, provide continuous refrigeration with generators or wet and dry ice. If dry ice is used in enclosed spaces, like walk-ins, make sure there is adequate ventilation to avoid a carbon dioxide build-up.
  10. If no electricity or gas is available for water heaters, water could be heated using alternate methods, such as electrical generators or propane heaters. As a safety precaution, advise your utility company when using a generator, and use it in a properly ventilated area.
  11. If your sewage connection is inoperable or in disrepair, a holding tank could be obtained to store wastewater temporarily. Contact the local wastewater authority for an approved pump and haul company to pump wastewater tanks and portable toilets to ensure proper disposal. Upon restoration of your potable water supply, adequately flus all plumbing lines and clean and sanitize all fixtures.
  12. Ensure rodents or pests that may have entered the facility are no longer present. Remove dead pests and sanitize any food-contact surfaces that have may have come into contact with them. Seal all openings into the facility to prevent future entry of pests, rodents or pets.
  13. Clean, repair and disinfect all surfaces affected by floodwaters. Those include floors, walls, ceilings, equipment and utensils.
  14. Before cleaning, clear refrigerated display and storage cases and other refrigerator equipment storing food of contaminated products and their juices. Also, thoroughly clean exhaust systems and hoods and free them of debris.

Download the full set of USDA guidelines. Visit the National Restaurant Association’s Hurricane news and resource page for additional help. Go to Food Safety Focus for restaurant food-safety information

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