In Wisconsin, food safety inspectors are checking vegetables from farms in flooded areas for contamination. Although state and federal food safety regulations do not directly address flooding, produce that has come in contact with flood water is considered unfit for human or animal consumption.
“Two things generally happen in a flood that can have potentially negative food safety impacts. First is the flooding of fields with contaminated water and second is contamination of well water that is used to wash produce,” said Peter Haase, Bureau of Food and Recreational Businesses Director for the Division of Food and Recreational Safety.
State Ag Secretary Ben Brancel said inspectors have been proactive, checking vegetable crops in flooded areas that could have been contaminated in the fields or after harvest when washed with well water. “Flood water almost certainly contains pathogens, chemicals or both. Produce can be contaminated directly or indirectly,” said Haase. “Generally, if flood water has touched it, it shouldn’t be sold or consumed.”
There have been no official damage estimates from ruined crops and other agriculture losses on Wisconsin farms from the floods and heavy rainfall.