Food safety for flood-affected produce
All mature crops (ready to be harvested) that have been in direct contact (or splashed) with flood waters should not be harvested or consumed and should be destroyed. This applies to all types of crops, fruit and vegetables, vine and tree fruit, surface crops, underground crops, and produce with or without a skin or shell.
Read the full guidance and resources on flood-affected crops below.
New Zealand Food Safety guidance for harvesting of flood-affected produce
New Zealand Food Safety has updated its grower guidance for harvesting produce affected by flood waters.
The guidance applies to produce that has been immersed in, or that has come into contact with flood water. The guidance does not apply to produce directly damaged by rainfall. Produce damaged by rainfall and that has not come into contact with flood water should be safe for human consumption.
Horticulture New Zealand harvest decision tree for flood-affected produce
This document was developed primarily as guidance for flood-affected vegetable/ground crops. It is not intended to replace any official advice. Growers are required to act in accordance with New Zealand Food Safety regulations.
Contact NZFS for any further questions you have regarding flood-affected produce: firstname.lastname@example.org
General floodwater food safety guidance:
It is important that growers manage the food safety of fresh produce after floods and major rains.
If your property has been affected by floodwater, undertake a risk assessment taking into consideration things such as whether the edible portion of the crop has been directly exposed to the floodwater or by floodwater ‘splash’; and how any affected crop can be identified and food safety risks managed.
The impact of floods may also depend on how long the flood water is present, how quickly the growing area dries out and if weather conditions and or stress to the plant could foster fungal growth and the possibility of mycotoxins.
Floodwaters may have:
- Microbial contamination caused by contaminated by sewerage/septic tanks, animal waste, dead animals and decaying vegetative waste
- Chemical contamination including petroleum products, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. Potential sources of chemical contamination will vary greatly depending on the severity of the flood and the proximity to other operations
- Contaminated water supplies.