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Food safety precautions after a flood or high rainfall

After floods or high rainfall, vegetable crops may become a risk to food safety, even if they look healthy.

On-farm run-off should not be a safety problem as long as the above-ground portions of the plants remain healthy.

Produce developed after water has subsided - such as tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, eggplants, sweet corn, squash, cucumbers and similar non-leafy vegetables - should be safe as long as the fruit is not cracked or soft.

Basic food safety precautions

  • Do not use produce from plants that have yellowed.
  • Discard vegetable crops flooded with off-farm water that may have been contaminated, particularly leafy vegetable crops.
  • Wash vegetables thoroughly before packing.

Preventing contamination in flooded crops

  • Test soils before replanting or harvesting crops if you suspect chemical or biological contamination. Contaminants will reduce over time with follow-up rainfall and sunny weather.
  • Ensure wash water contains a postharvest treatment to reduce the risk of breakdown. Change water regularly, or as soon as it gets dirty.
  • Discard produce flooded with off-farm water that may have been contaminated.
  • Remove dying or dead branches that may become an entry point for disease organisms or insect pests.
  • Apply suitable disease control measures as soon as possible and monitor for pests.

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