Is it safe to eat produce from a garden exposed to flooding?

Asked August 21, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT

After the flooding that occurred in SE Michigan last week, I would like to know if it is safe to eat the various items in my garden (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans). The garden was 'flooded' with approx. 2" of standing water in places. The water appeared to be from the saturated backyard/ground. The city/county did have major issues with the combined sewer/storm drains overflowing into basements and causing flooding. Is it safe to eat anything? Any risk of the contamination? It did rain a significant amount the following day AFTER the previous standing/flood water receded. Thank you

Oakland County Michigan

3 Responses

It is best not to consume raw produce that has been in flood water, however some may be cooked and then eaten.
If produce is bruised or decayed throw it away. Professionals caution that flood waters can enter the food items and bacteria and pathogens can be present and cause illness.
If there is any doubt as to the presence of industrial debris it is recommended that the produce not be use. Discard it in appropriate manner, as to not be consumed by others.

Eileen Haraminac

and what about picking all of the ripe fruit, throwing it away, and then eating the newly ripened fruit

In general, any produce where the edible part was directly touched by flood water presents a potential risk to health if consumed. This includes produce that was submerged or splashed by flood water. The ability to salvage crops that will be eaten raw with minimal risk depends on the source of the flood water, time to harvest, and whether potential contamination will have been internalized into the plant tissue. The newly ripened fruit should be fine to eat, wash all produce prior to eating.