Flooding and Power Cuts - Information For Food Businesses

If your food business has been flooded:


  • Depending on the extent of and the areas of the premises affected by the flooding, there could be a serious risk to public health from infection and food contamination. It is essential that all flood-damaged food and drink is taken out of the food chain and correctly disposed of to ensure it cannot be consumed and potentially cause illness.
    This includes all canned and bottled drinks (wine, spirits, beer and soft drinks) which have been in contact with floodwaters.
  • Do not prepare any food or re-open until the premises have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The floodwater may be heavily contaminated with sewage, harmful bacteria and other pollutants such as oil and petrol.
  • In affected areas, all food contact surfaces, equipment, utensils, work tables, crockery, cutlery, glasses, beer lines (if cellar badly affected) etc must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using suitable detergents (and dilution rates) before re-using. Any heavily contaminated items should be thrown away.
  • As stated above, food that may have been contaminated must be destroyed. It must be double-bagged (bottled/canned drinks can be poured down appropriate sinks) and placed in a sealed container so it doesn't attract pests.
  • Contact your commercial waste contractor to arrange collection of this food in the normal way.
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves, wellingtons, overalls etc. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after handling anything that may be contaminated.
  • Do not use any electrical items or circuits if affected by floodwaters as these may be unsafe. The circuits and equipment must be checked by a competent person (i.e. a qualified electrician) before use.
  • If you become ill or suffer any gastric symptoms following the clean-up, visit your GP as soon as possible. Nobody should handle or prepare food if they are suffering from gastric illness (symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting).

General health and safety

Your responsibilities under health and safety legislation in terms of staff and other persons coming on-site to your premises still apply in these difficult times:


  • When cleaning-up try to avoid contact with floodwater. Wear protective clothing including rubber gloves, wellingtons, overalls etc.
  • Avoid ingesting any water. Wash hands thoroughly and regularly with warm water and soap.
  • Do not use any electrical equipment or circuits that have been flooded until checked and declared safe by a qualified electrician.
  • If the power supply is off, assess the risk to your staff and customers and seriously consider closing the business.
  • Do not use internal lifts until power supplies are back to normal. You may become stranded if the supply is interrupted.
  • Use specialist detergents when cleaning up petrol/oil and follow safety information from the manufacturer. Ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Do not enter any confined spaces (such as cellars) where there is known oil/petrol contamination.

If your food business has been affected by a power cut:


  • High-risk food (such as meat, fish, dairy, egg and rice products) must be kept ideally at 5ºC or below and at the very least at or below 8ºC to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • If your refrigerators have been without power, it is essential to immediately physically check food temperatures to ensure that foodstuffs have been maintained at 8ºC or below. At this or any point, if foodstuffs are found to be above this then discard them.
  • Provided doors are kept closed, food should remain frozen in disconnected freezers for a short period of time. However you need to physically check this yourself. If food has defrosted it should be safe if treated as chilled food, ie ideally it should be 5°C or below, placed in an operational refrigerator and used-up within a couple of days. If frozen food has at any point as stated previously to have risen above 8°C as an absolute limit, then discard them.
  • If you are affected by intermittent power cuts, consider using cool boxes and keep a ready supply of ice blocks. Freeze these at times when the power is on.
  • Try to avoid opening refrigerator and freezer doors when the power is off. The temperature of an open fridge rises very quickly.
  • If you are unable to keep high-risk foods under adequate temperature control as above you must close your business.

Contact the Council and ask to speak to an Officer in the Food and Health and Safety Section for further advice.
Tel: 01382 433710 Option 5
Email: food.safety@dundeecity.gov.uk