Emergency Guidelines for
Food Service Establishments
Emergencies relating to food safety bring new challenges to the food systems of today. The food industry, scientists, and regulatory agencies have developed expertise in protecting the food supply from unintentional contamination.
The challenge faced is to build upon the food safety systems already in place by ensuring timely implementation of risk reduction practices. It is the intent of these guidelines to provide direction and preparedness to respond to an event, and by having plans in place to quickly recover after an incident.
Food industry employees along with regulators must be able to ensure a rapid response to food safety emergencies to protect food safety and public safety. Often these events involve close coordination with the Health Department.
This guideline is for food industry employees to be used as a reference in dealing with some of the common emergencies that can affect food safety.
View the guidelines here: Emergency Guidelines for Food Service Establishments
Clean Up After a Flood
Cleaning up your restaurant
- Protect yourself against hazards. People with breathing problems like asthma or who have weakened immune systems including children should stay away from moldy sites. Make sure the structure is safe before doing clean-up work. Protect your mouth and nose against breathing in mold: wear at least an N-95 respirator. Protect your skin. Wear protective gloves (non-latex, vinyl, nitrile, or rubber). Do not touch mold or moldy items with bare hands. Protect your eyes. Wear goggles that provide eye protection. Choose goggles designed to keep out dust and small particles. Safety glasses or goggles that have open vent holes will not protect you against dust and small particles.
- Remove standing water and wet materials. Use a wet vacuum to remove water from floors, carpets, and hard surfaces. Dry your restaurant and everything in it as quickly as you can – within 24 to 48 hours if you can.
- Open all doors and windows when you are working and leave as many open as is safe when you leave.
- Open inside doors to let air flow to all areas.
- Open cabinets; remove drawers, wipe them clean, and stack them to dry.
- If possible, let air flow to the attic. Before you open the attic door, make sure nothing will fall on you.
4. When electricity is safe to use, use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture. Do not use fans if mold has already started to grow, because the fans may spread the mold.
5. Clean with water and a detergent. Remove all mold you can see. Rinse and sanitize using a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented household (5.25% concentration) liquid bleach per gallon of water. (Reminder, do not mix cleaning products together. DO NOT mix bleach and ammonia because it can create toxic vapors.)
6. Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent mold from growing. Fix the water problem completely and clean up all the mold before you paint or caulk.
7. Throw away items that can’t be cleaned and dried. Throw away anything that was wet with flood water and can’t be cleaned and dried completely within 24 to 48 hours.
1. Do not use any food that may have come into contact with flood water.
2. Discard any food and beverage that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water.
o Food containers that are waterproof include undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and “retort pouches” (like flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches).
o Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, corks, and crimped caps.
o Also discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
3. Discard any food in damaged cans. Damaged cans are those with swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting that is severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener. See box on next page for steps to clean/save undamaged packages.
4. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented household (5.25% concentration) liquid bleach per gallon of water. Automatic dishwashers can be used if the water source is safe, and the machine has been properly cleaned and sanitized.
5. Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse and then sanitize by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented household (5.25% concentration) liquid bleach per gallon of water. Allow to air dry.
How to save undamaged food packages exposed to flood water
Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and “retort pouches” (like flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved if you follow this procedure.
1. Remove the labels, if they are the removable kind, since they can harbor dirt and bacteria.
2. Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt.
3. Thoroughly wash the cans or retort pouches with soap and water, using hot water if it is available.
4. Rinse the cans or retort pouches with water that is safe for drinking since dirt or residual soap will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine sanitation.
o Sanitize cans and retort pouches by immersion in a solution of 1 cup (8 oz/250 mL) of unscented household (5.25% concentration) bleach mixed with 5 gallons of water and soak for 15 minutes.
5. Air dry cans or retort pouches for a minimum of 1 hour before opening or storing.
6. If the labels were removable, then re-label your cans or retort pouches, including the expiration date, with a permanent marking pen.
Food in reconditioned cans or retort pouches should be used as soon as possible thereafter.
Use water from a safe source
1. Only use water from a public source for drinking and washing or preparing food.
2. Please contact our office directly if your facility uses a private source of water, such as a cistern or well.
COVID-19 NOTICE: Kentucky’s “Healthy At Work” guidance can be viewed here. For more information, please visit kycovid19.ky.gov.
FDA guidance for “Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” can be viewed here.
For additional guidelines on specific emergencies, click on one of the individual links below.