Floodwaters that inundated much of the Northeast have raised a host of human and animal health concerns. That's because those waters may have left sewage, heavy metals, or other contaminants in their wake.
That can also predispose these crops to molds and development of toxins. Since this has been an unusual event, there is little local precedent for dealing with the potentially serious health issues.
That's why Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture teamed up with the Food and Drug Administration's Centers for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and Center for Veterinary Medicine to offer guidance on testing, handling and disposal of those crops. Consider just two of many issues to drive home the importance:
Flood-damaged food crops are advised to be segregated from unaffected crops for testing to confirm that they are safe. If contaminated, FDA concludes that there's no practical way to recondition them for human food use. For example, soybeans intended for human food processing, such as soybean oil, should not be commingled with flood affected soybeans.
Flood-damaged crops intended for animal feed also are at risk of mycotoxins, Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, E. coli 0104:H4, Clostridium perfringens and botulinum. By choosing to harvest and use flood water adulterated crops as animal feed, producers will assume the liabilities associated with the potential problems of this feed.