Food Safety - Recovering from a flood

If your Retail Food Establishment (RFE) has been impacted by a flooding event, please adhere to the following guidelines when it is safe for you to do so and prior to serving food.

If there is an imminent health hazard** or safe* operations cannot be maintained, your Retail Food Establishment (RFE) must discontinue operation.

  1. Contact your local DHEC office for assistance.
  2. Checklist:
    • Contact your local building and codes department and other appropriate agencies to determine if the building structure is safe to enter and approved for occupancy.
    • If you are under a Boil Water Advisory or Notice, your RFE must follow the recommendations and requirements listed in Water-Related Emergencies. Additional guidance is available in the “Contaminated Water Supply” section of the Emergency Action Plan (EAP). If you had an Interruption of Water Service, your RFE must follow the requirements listed in Water-Related Emergencies. Alternative water sources are allowed as described in Reg. 61-25, Chapter 5-104.12
    • Guidance is available in the “Contaminated Water Supply” section of the EAP.
    • Your RFE’s drinking water system must be flushed and sampled after a water-related emergency as per Reg. 61-25, Chapter 5-101.12. In most cases, this will be completed by your water provider.
    • If you experienced a sewage backup into your RFE, see the “Sewage Backup” section of EAP for information and/or call your local DHEC office.
  3. Salvage
    • Identify what food, packaging materials, equipment, surfaces, and supplies are salvageable and remain safe*. Consult the “Flood: Food Salvage Assessment” section of the EAP. Keep in mind that Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) food that fell out of compliance with Reg. 61-25, Chapter 3, is non-salvageable.
  4. Disposal
    • Properly dispose of the non-salvageable items as per the “Flood: Food Salvage Assessment” section of the EAP. Secure food to be discarded in a designated storage area away from food preparation and other storage.
  5. Clean-Up
    • Commence cleaning of affected areas as described in the “Flood: General Cleaning Procedures” section of the EAP.
    • Remove any standing water as soon as possible and prior to starting clean-up procedures. Standing water may be located beneath floors where refrigeration or electrical conduits are located; this water must be removed as part of the clean-up.
    • Clean and disinfect any utensils, equipment, and surfaces in the affected area.
    • Absorbent wall and insulation materials are especially susceptible to mold and should be removed and replaced as soon as possible.
    • If linens or uniforms are contaminated by flood water, they must be discarded or professionally laundered prior to use.
    • Corrective actions should be implemented as soon as possible after the flood waters recede to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  6. Resuming Service
    • DHEC will be in the impacted areas providing support to RFEs. You may resume operations as soon as you are in compliance with applicable sections of Reg. 61-25, which may include operating under the provisions of Chapter 9-8, “Temporary Food Service Establishments,” or following the provisions EAP.

Please see Regulation 61-25, the Emergency Action Plan, and the Water-Related Emergencies documents located on or contact your local DHEC office for additional information.

*Safe means protected from or not exposed to danger or risk.

**Imminent health hazard means a significant threat or danger to health that is considered to exist when there is evidence sufficient to show that a product, practice, circumstance, or event creates a situation that requires immediate correction or cessation of operation to prevent illness or injury based on (a) The number of potential illnesses or injuries, and (b) The nature, severity, and duration of the anticipated illness or injury.


Food Safety