See the UF/IFAS’s Tip of the Week concerning flooding and food safety in agriculture in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian has caused a lot of problems for Florida ag, with flooding being one of those problems. Flooding not only poses a hazard for livestock, crops, and those working on the farm or ranch, but it can also ruin a harvest due to food safety. However, not all standing water is considered floodwater, according to a UF/IFAS Tip of the Week article, and not all produce is a loss after flooding. See the ins and outs of flooding and food safety below.

Details on Flooding and Food Safety

According to the Tip of the Week article, flooding is water that is “flowing or overflowing of a field from open bodies of water outside the food crop producer’s control,” and standing or pooled water from rain or an irrigation system issue are not considered flooding. The distinction is because floodwater has the potential for containing sewage, chemicals, heavy metals, disease-causing microorganisms, and other contaminants. These contaminants can make a harvested crop dangerous for consumption.

In terms of flooding and food safety, any crop that has been submerged in floodwater, has touched floodwater through splashing, or flood-wet soil, then it is considered adulterated under 02(a) (4) (21 U.S.C. 342(a)(4)) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, according to the article. Such crops cannot be used for food for humans or animals.

The article quotes the FDA guidelines for evaluating the safety of produce from flooded fields to assess the likelihood of contamination. According to the FDA guidelines, the likelihood of contamination is low if:

  • “The edible portion of the crop has developed after the floodwater receded, or
  • The lowest edible portion of the crop was above the floodwaters level with minimum risk of contamination due to splashing; and
  • The crop can be harvested without cross contamination from nearby environment, including flooded soil and flooded portion of the crop.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.