Keeping Food Safe After a Fire (E3365)
Residential fires are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. Some 2 million American homes are damaged or destroyed by fire yearly. In the aftermath of fire, people are left to salvage their lives and belongings.
When a disaster such as fire caused either by nature or human activity happens, the risk of unsafe food increases. Excess heat, smoke and toxic fumes released from burning materials, as well as chemicals used to fight fires, can cause foods exposed to them to be unsafe to eat. Saving food that has been in a fire is often unwise.
Heat from fire
Any type of food stored in permeable packaging such as cardboard, plastic wrap, and screw-topped jars and bottles – even if they have not been opened.
- Raw foods, such as potatoes or fruit.
- Foods having an off-flavor or odor.
Chemicals from fire
- Stored at room temperature, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Stored in permeable packaging, such as cardboard, plastic wrap, and screw-topped jars and bottles – even if they have not been opened.
To be safe, decontaminate canned goods and cookware exposed to chemicals:
- Remove labels and relabel with marker. Include the expiration date.
- Wash in a strong detergent solution. Rinse.
- Soak in a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of regular-strength bleach per gallon of water for 15 minutes.
References and Resources
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2013, July 30). Keeping food safe during an emergency. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/foodsafety-education/get-answers/food-safety-factsheets/emergency-preparedness/keepingfoodsafe-during-an-emergency/CT_Index
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2013, August 8). Fires and food safety. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/emergencypreparedness/fires-and-foodsafety/ct_index