Flooding and Food Safety
Rain is Welcome…
Although not anticipated, this winter has brought a lot of moisture to California. For a state that has been experiencing drought conditions over the past five years the precipitation is welcome. California farmers produce over 50% of the nation’s fruit and vegetables and their crops depend upon water.
But Flooding is a Concern
The rain is welcome, but some crops can be impacted in a negative way. Flooding is a serious food safety issue because it can introduce pathogens to crops. In fact, FDA considers produce that has been in contact with flood waters adulterated.
The LGMA food safety practices provide guidance on what to do if flooding affects a leafy green crop. LGMA staff is working with its members and their growers to ensure they know what to do after a flood.
How to Deal:
We do have a flooding resource available for LGMA members and other interested parties. It is a fact sheet that provides an overview of LGMA best practices after a flood event. Below are a few key points taken from the fact sheet:
The LGMA metrics address three different kinds of flooding: flooding of an existing crop, flooding near an existing crop and flooding where a new crop is planned.
With any type of flooding it is critical that you conduct a risk assessment and document your actions.
If flooding reaches an existing crop it is important to buffer the area and NOT to harvest product in the area.
Farmers should wait at least 60 days before planting on ground that has flooded. The goal is to allow the soil to dry out.
Farmers can reduce the 60-day interval to 30 days by collecting and testing soil samples from the flooded area. Refer to the attached documents for more information on testing.