Shropshire Council

Flooding and your food business

If your food business has been affected by flooding you must ensure:

  • All premises are in a safe and hygienic state before reopening for trade
  • All affected food and drink is disposed of
  • Thorough cleaning and disinfecting must be carried out
  • You contact your insurance company before disposing of any equipment
  • The safety of any electrical or gas equipment must be checked before use by competent professionals

Contact us if you:

  • Are in doubt about the need for disposal
  • Are unsure whether equipment can be cleaned/disinfected properly
  • Need a certificate for insurance purposes
  • Want help with disposing of goods

Please be aware we may charge for some services.

Contact Shropshire Council Health Protection Team
Tel: 0345 6789067 or email:

For more information select the links:

Food damaged by flooding

  • All unopened food which has been in contact with floodwater (including food cans) must be disposed of
  • All opened food items should be disposed of whether or not they have come into direct contact with floodwater, as they are likely to have become damp

Drinks damaged by flooding

  • All packaged drinks that have been in contact with floodwater must be disposed of, including cans, bottles and cartons
  • Any wooden beer casks that have been in contact with floodwater must be discarded
  • Sealed metal barrels of drink may be used, but only if floodwater has not come into close contact with any outlet or inlet on the barrel
  • If the floodwater contained diesel, then any containers that have come into contact with the floodwater must be disposed of 

Tell your supplier about any barrels you are returning that have come into contact with floodwater, so they can take the necessary precautions in dealing with these.

Ensure discarded drinks cannot be consumed by anyone. You can do this by pouring them away or having them collected by your waste company.

Cleaning equipment and surfaces

Clean your premises thoroughly before you start trading again. Areas that require close attention include:

  • Food preparation surfaces
  • Kitchen furniture, such as tables, shelves and cupboards
  • Food processing equipment, such as refrigerators
  • Crockery, utensils, chopping boards, pots, pans, storage containers

You will need to decide which items can be cleaned satisfactorily. Put as many utensils as you can through the dishwasher on the hottest setting.

Any badly damaged, cracked or chipped crockery or equipment cannot be cleaned properly, so must be disposed of. Some equipment, although in sound working order, may not be easy to clean and disinfect.

Equipment such as fridges and freezers where the motor or fan is located in, or directly connects with, the main body of the unit, must be disposed of if the motor or fan has been in contact with floodwater. It is not possible to clean and disinfect this equipment adequately.

Door seals to fridges or freezers cannot be adequately cleaned and disinfected if they are damaged. The seals must be replaced before the unit is used. If it is not possible to replace the seals then the unit must be discarded.

Where equipment has a smooth interior and does not connect directly with a motor or fan, then it may be possible to properly clean and disinfect the unit. Contact us if you are unsure and need advice.

Once you know which items you can thoroughly clean, first use hot soapy water then use disinfectant or sanitiser that meets British Standard EN 1276:1997 or British Standard EN 13697:2001. This information should be found on the label of the product.

Use the disinfectant/sanitiser in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions for it to be effective.

If you can safely do so, consider using a mild bleach solution for heavily contaminated cellar areas.

Health and safety

Do not use any electrical equipment or electric circuits such as sockets or light switches that have been flooded until they have been checked and declared safe by a qualified electrician.

Gas appliances must be inspected by a Gas Safe registered engineer before they are used. The appliances may look and appear to be working normally, but the flue or ventilation systems which are essential for normal operation may have been affected by floodwater.