WASHINGTON, D.C. — Flood waters not only cause widespread property damage, but can serve as a catalyst for foodborne illness.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released guidelines that residents living in flooded regions can use to keep their food safe for consumption.

An FSIS press release advises that food that has come into contact with flood waters should be discarded promptly, unless it is in a sealed and waterproof container. This includes juices, sodas and baby formulas.

The FSIS strongly recommends drinking only bottled water that has not come into contact with flood waters. Missourians should also thoroughly inspect canned goods and throw away any damaged cans.

According to the press release, appliances such as refrigerators should be raised off the ground to minimize the risk of damage. If any part of an appliance containing food is submerged, even partially, then the entire unit is unsafe to use and must be disposed of.

Pots and pans should be washed thoroughly with hot water and soap, if possible, or utensils and cookware may be boiled with clean water and chlorine bleach.

For a complete list of guidelines, visit the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s website.