Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a management system from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that addresses the safety of food via the analysis and control of various hazards. These hazards may be biological, chemical or physical, and they may result from the production of raw material; handling; procurement; manufacturing; distribution; or consumption.
There are a number of things that can jeopardize food safety, including natural disasters like flooding; fires; loss of power, whether it’s from wind, snow, storms, ice or wind; and various types of national disasters. It’s important to know how to tell if your food is safe, and it’s also important to know how to minimize the impact of these situations to keep your food safe. Keeping your food safe not only minimizes how much food you will lose, but it can also prevent food borne sickness. Here’s what you should know about HACCP and natural disasters, and how to stay safe during an emergency.
Preparing for an Emergency. You should always have food that you can heat on an outdoor grill and/or that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Build a collection of shelf-stable food, water, canned goods and either canned or boxed milk, and don’t use items from this collection – you’ll need everything in tact in the case of an emergency. If you have children or pets, you’ll also need formula or food that’s ready-to-use and doesn’t require refrigerator or preparation with water or heat. If you do need to eat these items, make sure to replace them as soon as possible. Also, you’ll need a handheld can opener on hand. Before eating any canned foods, check the cans for damage – look for things like leakage, swelling, holes, punctures, rust and dents.
Think about what you’ll need to do for food storage in case there’s an emergency. If you live in a part of the world that’s prone to flooding, keep your food on shelves that are out of the way of water. Note that if your food comes in contact with flood water, which may be contaminated, you should not eat any of that food. This is also why it’s important to keep your food in waterproof containers.
Have one or two coolers nearby, as well as frozen ice packs, so that you can keep your food cold if the power’s going to be out for more than a few hours. If your freezer isn’t full, keep the items in the freezer close to one another – this will help keep them cold for longer if you lose power.
Always have appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer. Instant-read, dial and digital thermometers, as well as appliance thermometers, will let you know if your food is being stored at a safe temperature. These thermometers will work even if you lose power. If you’re not sure if the food itself is at a safe temperature, you can find out using a food thermometer.
Protecting Your Food During an Emergency. Certain foods need to be refrigerated at a maximum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, including eggs, fish, meat and poultry. Frozen food must be kept at a maximum of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This becomes difficult when you lose power. In order to keep your food at the correct temperatures, try to not open the freezer or refrigerator doors – keep them closed as much as you can. This will maintain the temperature inside the freezer and refrigerator. If you don’t open the refrigerator, your food will remain at the correct temperature for up to four hours. Freezers that are filled with food will maintain their temperature for up to 48 hours, so long as the door stays closed. If the freezer is half full, it will maintain its temperature for 24 hours with the door closed. If you know or suspect that your power will be out for a long time, purchase block or dry ice to keep your refrigerator cold. It’s important to know prior to an emergency where you can purchase dry ice.
You never know when a natural or national disaster is going to strike. Knowing how to keep your food safe, though, will help you and your family stay healthy.