Flood water may be exposed to pathogenic microorganisms, heavy metals, chemicals, etc.
In recent weeks California agriculture has benefited from much-needed rains due to the drought that has affected us in recent years. The rain has helped farmers wash away the excess salts that California is well known for. However, the excess rain has brought on its own set of challenges:
- Too much water in the soil does not allow adequate oxygenation in the root zone, causing plant death.
- The lack of oxygen slows the decomposition of organic matter, reversing the nitrification process needed to convert organic nitrogen to mineral nitrogen.
- Excessive rainfall washes away all the fertilizers applied to the soil, which has an environmental impact, such as nitrate leaching and phosphorus runoff.
- Flooding of adjacent land can carry pollutants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and agrochemicals. In the case of nearby animal pens, manure runoff means the risk of microorganisms on our vegetables or fruit.
Get out of the Post Rain Risk Zone
It is advisable and required by various certification bodies for good agricultural practices to perform a risk analysis covering all sources that may be contaminated. Cross-contamination can put products at risk and impact the outcome of your food safety program or organic certification. To determine flood water’s potential risk and impact, it is advisable to document the risk analysis, including:
- Microbiological Testing (E.Coli O157:H7, Salmonella, etc.)
- Heavy Metal Testing (Cadmium, Mercury, Lead, Arsenic.)
- Pesticide Residues Testing (Glyphosate, Atrazine, Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, Malathion)
The flooding impact on crops will vary considerably depending on the degree and duration to which the crop was exposed to contamination. The volume, the time, how quickly the soil dried out, and whether the product had direct contact with the water.
The FDA recommends that farmers analyze for potential contaminants to help determine their suitability for human consumption. Monitoring and measuring risks allow you to have greater control of your crops so that they remain healthy for consumption.
If you have any doubts about what steps you should take to determine the risk level of your crops, don’t hesitate to contact us!
For more information, you can visit: Guidance for Industry: Evaluating the Safety of Flood-affected Food Crops for Human Consumption | FDA