Floodwater pathogens can’t be washed off of fresh produce

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Chef Extraordinaire
May 9, 2007
Southeastern Virginia
East Coast people, be careful to see where your produce comes from. I hate that this will cause problems for the economy in Florida, but we need to be safe.

Floodwater pathogens can't be washed off of fresh produce | Food Safety News

The state of Florida produces more fresh fruits and vegetables than any other state except California, and is the top tomato state in the country. As with backyard gardens, Hurricane Irma has turned many of Florida’s commercial fruit and vegetable fields into patches of pathogens that can’t be washed away.
I hope everyone reads the entire article. It would be a shame if people got scared into thinking all produce from Florida should be avoided from a quick read. Their economy is going to need our support now more than ever.

It also has good info about the way to clean what can be saved.
I did read the entire article. It says:

"From the Food and Drug Administration to county extension agents, experts on fresh produce are warning of the dangers of eating fresh produce that has been touched by floodwaters.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables that have been inundated by flood waters cannot be adequately cleaned and should be destroyed,” according to the FDA.

“There is no practical method of reconditioning the edible portion of a crop that will provide a reasonable assurance of human food safety. Therefore, the FDA recommends that these crops be disposed of in a manner that ensures they are kept separate from crops that have not been flood damaged to avoid adulterating ‘clean’ crops.”

"Floodwaters contain a cocktail of pathogens and parasites, including E. coli, Salmonella, typhoid and cholera."

Further down, it says:

"Saving undamaged food packages
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. However public health officials say the golden rule of food safety should be the primary rule: When in doubt, throw it out." Instructions follow.

I'm getting from your comment that you think fresh produce can be cleaned and saved. Is that what you meant?
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No, just that I hope people aren't scared away from the unadulterated Florida produce in an effort to err on the side of caution.
Florida''s biggest industry is tourism. That will take the biggest hit. Next is sugar, most of which comes from around lake Okeechobee. Most of the water supply for that industry comes from the lake. I haven't heard of any flooding. The SFWMD usually lowers the level of the lake when a hurricane is coming. Irma wasn't really a wet storm in this area. The Redland, in south west Dade county, is one of the largest tomato and vegetable growing regions in the state and it isn't growing season yet. I haven't heard of any real flooding there either. So, as bucky says, read the whole article and I'll add, take what you read with a grain of salt.

I haven't said anything about the citrus industry, because I don't care about those scumbags.
Just Google" citrus canker erradication program" if you are interested in why.
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My take is that large producer that sell to grocery chains will likely be very careful. They all have insurance, and one bad episode can ruin their business. I would be far more concerned with the small local producers who sell at farmers markets and specialty outlets. They may not have either the insurance or knowledge.

Of course, vegies that you cook are not as likely to be a problem as those you eat fresh. Of those, washable fruits and vegies are the safest. Leafy vegies are the least washable and probably the easiest to contaminate.
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