It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly seven years since the lives of the citizens of New Orleans and surrounding areas of the Gulf Coast were changed forever in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This epic storm demanded an immediate and unprecedented response. I was proud to be part of USDA’s team that quickly mobilized to provide disaster food assistance. Read more »
Posts tagged: hurricane
Just before Tropical Storm Irene hit Massachusetts, employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), including me, were informed of the storm’s potential impact on a dam rehabilitation project that was underway in Westborough, Mass., a suburban community west of Boston. Read more »
This week I joined Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on a tour of North Carolina and Virginia to assess areas damaged by Hurricane Irene and to discuss ways USDA can help residents recover.
Secretary Napolitano and I had the opportunity to see farmland devastated by the hurricane as well as speak with first responders, local officials, and residents about recovery efforts. It was encouraging to see communities pulling together to recover from these devastating circumstances. Read more »
As the peak of the 2009 hurricane season approaches, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is providing recommendations to minimize the chance of foodborne illnesses due to power outages and other problems caused by severe weather.
“In the hours after a tropical storm or hurricane, food safety can become a critical public health issue,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande. “With a little bit of planning and some common sense decision-making, people can make sure they have access to safe food and water even in the aftermath of severe storms.”
So how can you keep food safe when a storm knocks out the power? Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer, for starters. If you live in an area that often encounters severe weather, make sure you have coolers on hand and know where you can get dry and block ice.
Once the storm passes, it may take a while for power to be restored so resist temptation and keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible so the cold air does not escape. If the refrigerator door stays closed, the food inside can last safely for up to four hours. If the food still has ice crystals or is 40°F or colder when checked with a thermometer, it is safe to refreeze. Never taste it to determine its safety! A useful tip: Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for two days.
Flood waters often come with tropical storms and hurricanes. Unfortunately they bring the always present bacteria. Throw out food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance it has come into contact with flood water as well as other wooden or plastic kitchen equipment and utensils – don’t forget to throw out baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. You can wash other metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by soaking them for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. You may be able to save undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches by following our easy to follow tips.
Whether you have food in the refrigerator, freezor or cooler, including packaged goods and water, it is always better to be safe than sorry, so when in doubt, throw it out! FSIS has more tips to keep your food safe before, during and after a storm. Visit the FSIS fact sheet for all of the details and remember to Ask Karen , our virtual representative is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
Check out our information on food safety during a power outage and hurricane preparedness and share the public service announcement, Podcasts in English and Spanish as well as the American Sign Language videocasts.