Consumers have been warned to prepare for fruit and vegetable shortages as floodwaters in the upper North Island impact food safety.
The weekend’s flooding will exacerbate supply issues caused by rainy conditions this summer in much of the country, leading to higher prices nationwide.
Anne-Marie Arts of industry group United Fresh says there is a risk to the safety and shelf life of produce that has come into contact with the water.
“Flooding exposes fresh produce to microbial risk. If floodwaters come in contact with the edible part of the crop, it is considered to be contaminated and will not be harvested,” she said.
Once flooding subsides, growers must dispose of affected crops and cannot replant until the land is dry and in a suitable condition. These delays might result in supply gaps for some produce, she said.
Crops that are suitable for harvesting will need to be quarantined until they’re declared safe through microbial testing.
Home gardens must take the same precautions, Arts added.
“Floodwaters can flush through sewer systems and across rural land collecting human and animal waste. The waters may contain pathogens that can make you seriously ill,” she said.
“We’re advising anyone with a home garden that may have had floodwater enter to throw away affected plants immediately.”
Information on food safety following a flooding event can be found on the MPI website.
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