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District 11

Alder Bill Tishler

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Alder Bill Tishler

Contact Information

Home Address:

P.O Box 5252

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Tishler’s Blog

Flooding: Garden/Produce safety

August 24, 2018 11:46 AM

The following is a message from Barb Ingham, Food Safety Specialist at UW-Madison, regarding the safety of produce from gardens that have been affected by flooding or standing water.


Flooding earlier in the season allows fruits to develop, sunlight (UV radiation) to help with microbial decay, and generally solves a lot of problems. This close to harvest (during the harvest season) we don't have that luxury. 

The safest thing to do is to discard all produce from fields where there was a risk of flooding or standing water. But many people will want to salvage at least some of their garden's bounty.

Underground crops (beets, carrots, potatoes) or thick-skinned above ground crops harvested from fields where heavy rain occurred should, if harvested within the next 3-4 weeks, be rinsed with clean water to remove dirt, rinsed in a dilute bleach solution (1 Tablespoon bleach per gallon of water), and peeled before cooking. If the time between flooding and harvest is more than 3-4 weeks, you are basically treating the items as you normally would, and the chlorine bleach rinse can safely be omitted.

Above ground fruits and vegetables which such as tomatoes present some level of risk. These are often above the level of flood waters, but would be splashed with rain or flood water.  If a consumer wishes, they can rinse this produce with clean water, rinse in bleach, peel and cook. These crops should not be eaten raw at this time if there was standing water or flooding in the field, even if the fruits are above the water level.  

No leafy greens like lettuces should be eaten from any flooded field.

Once we get to September 1st ~ 2 weeks out from flooding and assuming we have had nice sunny, warm weather, it should be OK to eat tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables rawthat were above flood waters.  We just need to remember to rinse the fruits and vegetables well before consuming or preparing. 

Produce that isn't fit for eating should not be preserved by canning, freezing, drying, etc.

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