Surveillance and Salvage Following Disasters
answers for the following questions:
- Was electricity
off? If yes, for how long?
- In case of
fire, what was used to extinguish the fire?
- If water was
used, was it from a potable supply?
- What arrangements
have been made to remove "safe" products from the
DETENTION AND RECONDITIONING OF FOOD:
that cannot be salvaged, detain questionable items and recondition
salvageable items with close supervision.
for the proper disposal of condemned goods is one of the
first items to be completed in a disaster plan. Proper disposal
could include the use of approved types of incinerators,
when available, or the use of sanitary landfills or both.
In many cases, it may be necessary to establish temporary
sanitary landfills. Trucking arrangements should also be
considered in a disaster plan. Workmen and security guards
should be at the landfill site for proper disposal and to
prevent scavenging/looting. Records should be kept of disposal
of merchandise at the place of business and at the disposal
site. Do not forget the number of truckloads, date and point
of origin information for future insurance claims and reimbursement.
Reputable dealers and manufacturers want assurance that
their products are absolutely destroyed and will not reappear
as damaged merchandise in retail outlets leaving a door
open for damage suits by the general public.
that should be destroyed and cannot be reconditioned or
- Produce such as lettuce,
celery, cabbage that has been under flood water or otherwise
contaminated. Most produce is self destructive because
- All packaged foods such
as: coffee and tea in bags, flour, meal, cereals, beans,
wheat and whole unprocessed grains and confectionery sugars.
The food containers (bags/packages) that are not waterproof.
- Salted / shelled / shell
nuts exposed to the flood waters.
- Screw-top, crimped-cap
and similar containers when water affected such as: canned
soft drinks, beer, wine and other liquor products.
- Frozen foods partially
or completely thawed. Some of the frozen foods that are
thawed because of power shortage can be sold as "freshly
- Potentially hazardous
foods under refrigeration where temperatures have reached
41°F or higher, for a period of four hours or longer.
- Heat damaged food items
that were noticeably charred or that were in the immediate
proximity of the fire. Look for charred labels or other
packaging damage. Extreme heat can re-cook the contents
of canned foods and adversely affect the product.
- Foods subjected to direct
contact with non-potable water. Paper or cellophane-wrapped
goods can collect filth or split at the seams making it
virtually impossible to remove dirt or sanitize properly
and therefore are not salvageable. This includes items
such as: candies, cereals, bread, cakes, chewing gum,
- Eggs whether frozen or
in-shell must be destroyed. Eggs in slip-cover type tops
in flood waters cannot be salvaged or reconditioned.
- Kraut and pickles in process
of manufacturing or in bulk (in open barrels) must be
- Foods in glass containers.
Experience has shown that any bottled foods with a cork
stopper or glass and cork stoppers were found to be contaminated
on the interior when submerged in flood water. Mainly
used for catsup, vinegar and condiments, no type of closure
used on these containers has been found safe after submersion
in water. In some cases, large quantity of food products
packed in glass containers with the anchor type vacuum
pack cover have been salvaged at the processing plant
by completely cleaning and sanitizing of the containers
and re-cooking of the product in the container. This treatment
is only of value for jams, catsup and other products,
which are not injured or damaged by re-cooking. Home canned
foods, except in a hermetically sealed metal can, are
- Smoke damage to food is
probably the most difficult to assess. Insoluble tars
and plastics and their byproducts may be suspended in
the smoke and is a major concern. All meats exposed to
smoke shall be disposed of unless salvaged under the guidance
of USDA for use as animal feed. Oil products such as butter
readily absorbs smoke with a resulting "off"
odor and taste. Not all friction-type closure and cellophane-wrapped
products affected by smoke are salvageable. Produce is
a perishable product and usually makes an unwise salvage
- Chemical damage of foods
can occur with chemicals used in fire prevention, breakage
of chemical bottles, aerosols and insecticides, etc. Any
slight indication of food being contaminated whether it
is chemical or microbiological will make the product unsalvageable.
- Syrup, molasses, honey,
etc. is packed in containers that makes it difficult to
salvage or recondition.
- Meats, whether smoked,
fresh, salted except for canned meats, cannot be salvaged
for human consumption. Meat in process of pickling or
curing after submersion in flood water cannot be salvaged.
Such meat or meat products of any type may have some value
for rendering purposes. Hog feeding of raw, fresh meats
should not be permitted unless cooking facilities are
- Ice creams and other dairy
products must be destroyed and have no salvage value.
- Fish and seafood products
once thawed must be destroyed. They can possibly be sold
as a "freshly thawed" product if the temperature
is maintained below 41°F. If these products are submerged
in flood waters, they must be destroyed.
- Spices that are shipped
in containers such as paper or cardboard type therefore
definitely to be destroyed.
- Salt, sugar, dried milk,
powdered eggs, etc. If the flood waters have come over
the barrels or sacks, the sugar or salt has been dissolved
and the dried products damaged, allowing no other solution
but destruction. If, however, the bags are only wet, it
is possible to salvage the product by returning it to
the manufacturer for re crystallization. This can be of
value only in large quantities. Dried milk or powdered
eggs may be used for stock feeding after mixing with other
products such as grains, etc.
All items that
are questionable (those you are not so sure about) should be
separated with instructions to hold. It is not the responsibility
of the City of Houston inspector to recondition or segregate
the contaminated merchandise from the uncontaminated, but it
is their responsibility to supervise such activity. Detention
is an early activity that is completed during the preliminary
survey of all food establishments. Schedules for supervising
segregation and salvage can be made after the preliminary survey.
utensils - whether in stock in a store or in a restaurant should
be thoroughly washed of all filth and mud and disinfected or
sanitized in a chlorine solution of 200 ppm for china or glass
material. If they are made from a metal, use the boiling water
disinfecting method. Do not allow a dealer to sell food utensils
without cleaning and disinfecting.
Before food establishments
are re-opened for business, a complete inspection should be
made to ensure that the following list is satisfactorily completed.
the cleaning of food handling facilities:
establishment should be open until the entire establishment
has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized or disinfected.
Except in an emergency, when it is necessary to open such
establishment earlier, no such establishment should be open
without the entire building being dried out. The cleaning
should proceed as follows:
All mud should
be removed from the building. Any water in the basement
or cellar should be pumped out or bailed out immediately.
All plumbing fixtures in the establishment should be tested
to see if they are free of obstruction; if they are not
free, they should be cleaned out. Commodes and drain traps
can be cleaned with water and a swab or by routing with
- All parts should be cleaned
without forcing any dirt into the bearings. Wipe the metal
surfaces of such equipment clean with a rag wet with appropriate
chemicals to prevent rusting. Before using, oil the bearings
and wipe the surfaces exposed to hands or clothing dry with
a sift cloth.
- Walls, woodwork, etc. in
the food establishment should be scrubbed with a stiff fiber
brush and plenty of water before the establishment is dried
out. Plaster may be cleaned with good wallpaper cleaner
as soon as it is dry. All walls should be brushed down before
any food handling. There is no use in attempting to rebuild
any woodwork until it is completely dry. All woodwork including
floors should be thoroughly scrubbed.
- Linoleum / vinyl should
be removed because the silt will be underneath the vinyl
- Equipment and all furniture
should be taken outdoors and thoroughly scrubbed using a
steam cleaner hose if necessary to remove all mud and dirt.
Any stuffed furniture must be allowed to dry completely
before use after cleaning. Metal furniture should be cleaned
as soon as possible since it is likely to rust. All stoves
should be thoroughly cleaned and polished if necessary with
a good stove polish. All pots and pans should be thoroughly
scrubbed, cleaned and sanitized, using a chlorine solution
or hot boiling water.
Note: If a food
service establishment wants to open soon after the flood, it
is recommended that single service be utilized, i.e., paper
plates, paper cups, plastic spoons / forks / knives, paper napkins
until the Houston Department of Health and Human Services can
be assured that satisfactory dishwashing methods are available.
- Keep good records of all food
products detained, destroyed, or salvaged.
- All dead animal carcasses
should be cremated or buried. If in a reasonable condition,
rendering plants may pick them up if so notified.
this or any other food-safety related information, please call
the Consumer Health Services of the Houston Health and Human
Services Department at 713-794-9200.
the HDHHS Bureau of Consumer Health Services