Flooded Crops Cannot Be Used for Human Food (UPDATED)

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NCDA&CS has announced a plan to help farmers divert crops to animal feed after proper testing, based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations regarding use of flooded crops.

Extension is partnering with NCDA on this project and growers should contact Extension agents for guidance. Extension agents and specialists should also encourage farmers to contact their insurance agents as soon as possible, if they have not yet done so.

In the most simple form:

  1. Any crop intended for human consumption that was contacted by flood waters from off the farm can no longer be used for human food.
  2. It is, however, possible that it could be used for animal feed, but it will need to be tested first.
  3. There is a protocol for testing, through which Extension agents will be helping farmers.
  4. All samples and paperwork will go to NCDA for testing.
  5. The cost of testing will be free for the growers.

Please refer below for the full announcement from NCDA&CS.

Rich Bonanno
Director, NC State Extension


View the original letter from NCDA&CS with additional details:
Letter to Industry Regarding Flood-Impacted Crops and Commodities

NCDA&CS, NC State to help farms divert crops to animal feed with proper testing

Farmers whose crops were flooded by Hurricane Matthew face not only the prospect of lower yields and loss of quality, but also the reality that those crops cannot be used for human food.

Crops and commodities exposed to floodwaters are considered adulterated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and cannot enter human food channels. They also cannot be used for animal feed unless they pass a testing protocol.

“Floodwater may contain sewage, harmful organisms, pesticides, chemical wastes or other toxic substances,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Also, wet foods may grow mold, which can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.”

The FDA guidance applies to all food crops, including:

  • Surface crops such as leafy greens, tomatoes and corn;
  • Underground crops such as peanuts and sweet potatoes;
  • Crops with a hard outer skin, such as watermelon and winter squash; and
  • Commodities such as grains, nuts, corn and similar products stored in bulk.

The FDA guidance applies to crops that were flooded with water from rivers, creeks or streams. Pooled water, or rainwater that has collected in the field, is different from floodwater and is not likely to contaminate field crops.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is collaborating with N.C. State Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University to help farmers determine safe uses for crops affected by Matthew’s flood waters.

Under an FDA process, farmers can submit a request to divert flooded crops or commodities to animal feed as long as they pass a testing protocol.

Before crops or commodities contacted by floodwaters can be used for animal feed, the farm must develop a diversion request detailing the process to assure the safety of the crop or commodity. Requests should be submitted to the NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division.

To assist farmers submitting diversion requests, the department will provide testing at no cost to the farm. “This testing process can help farmers find alternative uses for their crops and commodities while maintaining confidence in the safety of our food supply,” Troxler said. “The department and the university are committed to helping in this recovery effort. We encourage farmers not to initiate any diversion actions until their request has been approved.”

Farmers should contact their local Cooperative Extension agents for further information and guidance.