DBPR’s Food Safety Tips for the 2019 Hurricane Season

The 2019 hurricane season has officially begun, and DBPR’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants would like to provide the industry with the following food safety tips and reminders on how to operate safely during an emergency:

• Hot food should maintain a temperature of 135°F or above while cold foods should be kept at temperatures of 41°F or below.

• Minimize the handling of foods before, during and after preparation. Wash hands with potable or boiled water.

• Single-service articles should be used whenever possible. Discard single-service items such as paper or plastic plates, cups, plastic utensils, lids, straws, etc. if the items have been exposed to contamination.

• Food should be covered and protected from dust, dirt, insects, vermin and other contaminants.

• Add bags of ice or dry ice to refrigerators and freezers prior to the emergency if a notice is given and loss of power for an extended time is expected.

• Do not operate if the establishment has no safe water supply or electrical power (or generators) to run essential equipment.

• Do not operate if the establishment has no roof or is not structurally sound.

• While power is off, keep the doors to freezers and coolers closed in order to maintain temperature as long as possible.

• When power is restored, identify all potentially hazardous foods (PHF) that may have been above 41°F or below 135°F for more than four hours. PHF foods that have been out of temperature for more than 4 hours must be properly discarded.

• Thawed foods that still contain ice crystals and are 41°F or less can safely re-freeze.

• Discard any food that has been contaminated or come in contact with floodwater, sewage, smoke, fumes, chemicals, or other liquid contaminants.

• Discard vulnerable containers of food such as those containing peel-off covers, scored pop tops, waxed cardboard, cork or screw tops or paraffin seals such as glass or plastic containers of catsup, dressing, milk, mayonnaise, soda, beer, sauces, etc. if the containers have been exposed to contamination.

• Discard foods packaged in soft, porous containers like cardboard boxes, paper, foil, plastic and cellophane such as boxes or bags of food, cereal, flour, sugar, rice, salt, etc. if the packages have been exposed to contamination.

• Discard shell eggs exposed to any contamination – the shell is porous

• Do not use swollen, leaking or damaged canned goods.

• Smoke damage to food is difficult to assess. Insoluble tars and plastics and their byproducts suspended in smoke is a major concern. Discard all foods exposed to smoke.

• Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans can be saved if you remove labels that can come off, thoroughly wash the cans, rinse them, and then disinfect them with a sanitizing solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of potable water. Finally, re-label the containers with a marker.

• If the establishment was exposed to contamination, clean and sanitize all equipment and food-contact surfaces with potable or boiled water. Do not operate until the entire establishment has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized or disinfected. Š

• All water filters on equipment should be removed and replaced if not designed to be cleaned in place.

Division Director Rick Akin would like to remind all operators, Food Safety is in Your Hands!

For more hurricane tips, visit our Hurricane Resources page.