Colorado Food Safety After The Flood

Colorado Food and Beverage Lawyers of LaszloLaw Discuss Food Safety After The Colorado Flood

Food Safety News is reporting Colorado officials are working with farmers to address potential crop and soil contamination after the recent floods.

The article references the industry guidance issued by the FDA from October 2011 after Hurricane Irene caused flooding. According to the FDA’s industry guidance, floods can cause contamination of crops that could possibly make it to market:

Flooding events can present a potentially hazardous public health risk.  In some areas, crops may be submerged in flood water which may have been exposed to sewage, chemicals, heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms or other contaminants.  Even if the crop is not completely submerged, there may still be microbial contamination of the edible portion of the crop. There is also the potential for plants to take up chemical contaminants. In addition to the direct presence of contaminants noted above, mold and toxins may develop in the crops as a result of exposure to the water.

Colorado Food and Beverage Lawyer | LaszloLawAccording to Food Safety News, “[Colorado] state officials and others are confident that only safe products from the state will reach the market.” According to those officials, most fields with crops in Colorado were not affected–however, the fields without crops that may be planted in the near future still need to be tested for contaminants.

The FDA guidance offers some suggestions for farmers with lands that have been impacted:

  • Assess flood-affected fields before replanting.  This includes allowing soils to dry sufficiently and be reworked prior to subsequently planting crops and sampling dried flooded soil for the presence of microorganisms.
  • Segregate flood-affected crops from crops not affected.
  • Prevent cross contamination.  This includes sanitizing farm equipment and workers’ protective clothing that have come in contact with the flooded areas.
  • Create a 30 foot buffer zone between flooded and non-flooded areas.
  • Check you well. If the well head is under a flood water area, there is a potential for contamination.  Consequently, the well’s water quality should be tested before using.

The suggested guidelines from the FDA, while not binding on farmer, are a good framework for farmers to use to minimize their risks. Recent outbreaks of listeria caused by Colorado melons are enough of a warning for farmers as to the consequences of contaminated crops–which can include both civil and criminal fines and penalties, including possible arrests.

Colorado Food and Beverage Lawyers of LaszloLaw

The Colorado Food and Beverage Lawyers of LaszloLaw assist individuals and businesses food and beverage industry on a wide-range of legal needs, including product liability lawsuits, business formation, and risk management. Contact our Colorado Food and Beverage Lawyer today online or at 303-926-0410.