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Food Safety after a Fire

Although food products may appear to be safe to salvage after a fire, toxic fumes, chemicals and smoke may have affected the health of the products.

Food in cans and jars may have been affected by extreme heat and may have caused bacteria spoilage. Canned goods that have not been subjected to excessive heat may be salvaged by cleaning and sanitizing the exterior surfaces.

Any food covered with permeable packaging may have been damaged by fumes from the fire and must be discarded. This includes food products stored in coolers and freezers as the seals may have been compromised. Chemicals used to treat fires are toxic and any food product that has come into contact with the chemical must be discarded to protect public health.  

Be careful if there was a power outage during the fire, as this can interrupt the proper temperature storage of food.

**In general, if in doubt, throw it out**

General Cleaning Checklist

  • Thoroughly wash, rinse and sanitize all food contact surfaces
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitize all non-food contact surfaces (i.e. floors, walls, coolers, freezers, storage areas, drains, light fixtures)
  • Discard all single service utensils due to possible soot contamination
  • Wash, rinse, and sanitize, or put through dishwasher all cookware, cutting boards and trays
  • Disassemble all food equipment and wash, rinse and sanitize the 3-compartment sink or in the dishwasher. Ensure all clean-in-place equipment is adequately washed, rinsed, and sanitized
  • Prominently label all damaged food products “NOT FOR SALE OR CONSUMPTION”, and remove from premises
  • Professionally clean and inspect exhaust hoods and HVAC system
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize dining room tables and launder all linens
  • Adequately clean dining room carpet, if salvageable, to remove debris and reduce odrs
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitize restrooms (i.e. hand sinks, toilets, floors, walls)

Original article source: Restaurant Canada – Food Safety after a Fire

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