My vegetable garden was recently flooded. Can I eat the vegetables?


My vegetable garden was recently flooded. Can I eat the vegetables?


After a flooding event, both biological and chemical contamination are of concern for vegetables, fruits, and other edible crops. Contaminations can include pesticides, heavy metals, and petroleum products as well as bacteria, parasites, and viruses.  These contaminants pose a serious food safety risk.  Proper handling of garden produce after flooding is important.

The safest course of action following a flood is to discard all plants and produce from the garden.  

However, some steps can be taken to salvage produce not touched by flood waters.  In general, fruits and vegetables that were immature at the time of flooding should be safe to eat if harvested 90 to 120 days later (90 days for produce not in contact with the soil and 120 for produce that contacts the soil).  This would include vegetables in the blossom or pre-blossom stage.  Be sure to wash thoroughly and cook before eating. 

Steps can also be taken to recover or replant.

More details on how to determine what to discard and what to salvage in the vegetable garden, as well as steps to take for replanting can be found in this article: Managing Flood Damaged Vegetable Gardens.

Above all, when in doubt, throw it out. If you are unsure about the safety about any garden produce, remove and destroy all plants.

Last updated on
June 25, 2024