Hurricane Food Safety Update for Industry
This is an update for Georgia’s food industry regarding the potential impacts of Hurricane Irma. The hurricane’s current track represents a major threat to Georgia beginning early next week, which should not be underestimated. Governor Nathan Deal signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency for 30 Georgia counties, and the State Operations Center opened on Sept. 7 in response to the threat posed by Hurricane Irma.
This dangerous storm brings the potential for very high winds, heavy rains and flooding, and possible tornadoes farther inland depending on the storm’s path. Industry sectors most likely to be impacted include commercial facilities, communications, emergency services, energy, healthcare and public health, and transportation. Additionally, airport closures and damage to crops/farms could have national impacts.
POTENTIAL HAZARDS & IMPACTS TO INDUSTRY
- Food Facility Flooding
- Food Facility Structural Damage
- Power Interruption at Food Facilities
- Water Interruption at Food Facilities
Food processors and retailers should continue to closely monitor the storm’s path and be ready to respond to changing threats. Next week, food facilities may expect to be visited by a Georgia Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspector in areas of potential damage. Inspectors will be there to assess damage impacting food products; this would not be a formal “inspection,” rather it will entail a quick visit that allows inspectors to verify a facility is safe to be open for food sales and/or food processing. Please remember that once the storm hits, response and recovery activities do not begin for at least 48 to 72 hours after high winds have ended, to ensure responder and public safety. That means it could take several days before an inspector is safely able to reach a facility if it is in an affected area.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture would like to encourage everyone to take an assessment of their preparedness status. Visit the Georgia READY website, https://ready.ga.gov, for tips, checklists and other valuable information to assist with various types of disasters. Be mindful and take protective measures for you, your business, and your family to be prepared for this storm and the days following.
Find all the latest updates about food safety, livestock, shelters, fuel and other important disaster-related information for Georgia on our agency's hurricane webpage at http://agr.georgia.gov/gda-hurricane-response.aspx, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram via “@GDAFoodSafety.” For all non-emergent questions or concerns relating to food (e.g., requesting an on-site witness for a voluntary destruction of product), please contact the GDA Food Safety Division at (404) 656-3627.