Produce, gardens affected by floodwaters may require safety precautions

Produce, gardens affected by floodwaters may require safety precautions
Photo courtesy of Vermont Valley Community Farm

A University of Wisconsin expert warned Friday about the safety of produce from gardens that have been affected by the historic flooding in Dane County.

According to UW food safety specialist Barb Ingham, standing water that touches or splashes onto produce can be unsafe this close to harvest.

Ingham said in a post on Madison District 11 Alder Arvina Martin’s blog that it is most safe to discard produce in gardens or fields that have experienced flooding.

According to Ingham, if individuals still want to harvest some of their produce, there are methods to consume it safely.

Underground crops and thick-skinned aboveground crops that are harvested within three to four weeks must be rinsed off, treated with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water, and peeled before cooking. If they were harvested after four weeks the produce can be simply rinsed.

Ingham said that aboveground fruits and vegetables are risky. They should be rinsed with water and bleach and peeled before cooking. Any raw consumption could be unsafe.

According to Ingham, after fields dry in the coming weeks it will be safe to eat fruits and vegetables that were above floodwaters raw.

Any leafy greens affected by flooding should be discarded.