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Food Service Operation Fact Sheets

Flooding in a FSO

Flooding in a Food Service Operation (FSO)

When a flood occurs, there are potential health concerns that can be caused by the flood event. Prior to re-opening, persons-in-charge (PICs) of food service operations should conduct a complete self-inspection to ensure that normal operations can be resumed safely and without compromising food safety. 

Facilities required to close or cease operations should not re-open until authorization is granted by the local health department. 

After a Flood

Do not enter a flood damaged building where there is potential for hazardous materials or gas leaks within the building, until the building has been cleared by a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) team, fire department or other regulatory agency. For exposures to mold-contaminated materials/environments, or other recognized hazards, a  National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved respirator may be necessary. Please refer to the NIOSH website for more information on personal protective equipment: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ppe/.  

A facility that has been flooded must be properly cleaned and sanitized before operations resume.  Decontamination and sanitization procedures using chemical sanitization should be used on equipment and structural surfaces that are salvageable. Examples of chemical sanitizers include chlorine bleach at a concentration of 100-200 ppm (1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of potable water), quaternary ammonium at a concentration of 200 ppm, or other approved sanitizers. Decontamination should be completed in a manner that eliminates any harmful microorganisms, chemical residues, or filth that could pose a food safety risk.

Exposed Food Products

After a flood event, most foods that have come into contact with flood waters should be discarded.  The general recommendation is “When in doubt, throw it out.”  The following are recommendations for the disposition of specific foods that have been exposed to flood water:  
  • Dispose of contaminated or spoiled foods in closed containers to prevent rodent and fly harborage.
  • Complete proper and safe disposal of condemned food items in a manner consistent with federal, state, and local solid waste storage, transportation, and disposal regulations, to ensure these products do not reappear as damaged or salvaged merchandise for human consumption.

Physical Facilities

Mold contamination is a concern whenever a flood occurs. Structural components of the building affected by flood waters or other damage from the flood, should be cleaned, repaired, and sanitized, where possible. Porous materials that have been exposed to flood water for more than 48 hours generally cannot be sufficiently cleaned and sanitized and should be discarded, including unsealed (bare) wood, carpet, upholstered furniture, drywall, etc.  Cement walls that have mold damage may be reconditioned if they can be effectively cleaned and sanitized.  Once cleaning is complete, the facility must be sufficiently dried to prevent mold growth. 
  • Thoroughly wash all physical facility interior surfaces (e.g., floors, walls, and ceilings) using potable water, with a hot detergent solution, followed by a clean-water rinse and residues, and treated with a sanitizing solution. 
    • Special attention should be given to lighting, drainage areas, ventilation vents, corners, cracks and crevices, door handles and door gaskets.
  • Exhaust systems and hoods should be thoroughly cleaned and cleared of any debris by professional service technicians as needed. Water damaged ventilation systems that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized should be removed and replaced. All ventilation air filters should be replaced. 
  • Facilities served by a water well that has been flooded should have the well disinfected and tested for bacteria to confirm it is safe after flood waters recede. The Ohio EPA or the local health district should be contacted for guidance.


Thoroughly wash all countertops, equipment and non-food contact surfaces with soap and hot water; rinse with clean water, and then sanitize using an approved sanitizer; allow to air dry. 
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitize all sinks before resuming use. 
  • Inspect equipment to ensure it is operational and all aspects of its integrity are maintained.  Repair or replace damaged equipment prior to being put back into service.
  • Thoroughly clean all cooking equipment and have them checked by the fire department, local utility company, or authorized service representative prior to use. 
  • Sanitize food contact surfaces and equipment using chlorine bleach at a concentration of 50-100 ppm, quaternary ammonium at a concentration of 200 ppm, or other approved sanitizer. 
  • Thoroughly wash, rinse and sanitize all metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils.
  • Wash, rinse, and sanitize equipment and utensils using a dishwashing machine or 3-compartment sink, and: 
    • Run the empty dishwasher through the wash-rinse-sanitize cycle three times to flush the water lines and clean and sanitize the dishwasher. 
    • Hot water-sanitizing dishwashing machines should provide a final, sanitizing rinse of 180°F (160°F on utensil surfaces). 
    • Chemical sanitizing dishwashing machines should provide chlorine bleach at a concentration of 50-100 ppm, quaternary ammonium at a concentration of 200 ppm, or other approved sanitizer. 
    • An approved test kit must be used to ensure appropriate sanitizer strength for chemical sanitizing. For hot water sanitization, a maximum registering thermometer or temperature sensitive tape must be used to verify the final rinse temperature. 
    • Refrigerated storage equipment should be thoroughly washed inside and outside with a hot detergent solution and rinsed free of detergents and residues. 
  • All filters on equipment should be removed and replaced if not designed to be cleaned in place. 
    • Replace all ice machine filters and beverage dispenser filters, and flush all water lines, including steam water lines and ice machine water lines, for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Discard all ice in ice machines; clean and sanitize the interior surfaces (ice making compartment and storage bin); run the ice through 3 cycles; and discard ice with each cycle. 

Maintaining Food Temperatures

  • Verify that that all refrigerated and freezer equipment is capable of consistently maintaining cold holding temperatures (41°F or lower, or in a frozen state) before food items are placed in the units. 
  • Verify that all equipment used for food preparation (e.g., cooking, cooling, and reheating) is functioning and properly calibrated prior to use:
    • Cooking equipment can heat to the appropriate cooking temperature, and hot-holding equipment can hold food at the required temperature (135°F or higher for prepared hot foods). 
    • Cooling equipment (such as blast chillers) can properly cool foods to 41°F within a maximum of 6 hours, and hold the food at 41°F or lower.

Click the following links for a printable version of Flooding in a Food Service Operation:

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Sewage Backup in a FSO

Sewage Backup in a Food Service Operation

A sewage backup is the overflow of sewage from equipment or plumbing facilities within a food service operation. Sewage is liquid waste that contains animal or vegetable matter in suspension or solution and may also include liquids containing chemicals in solution. Clear water waste (i.e. ice bin/machine drainage, condensation from refrigeration and air conditioning equipment) is not considered sewage. In the event of a sewage backup, food service operations should notify their local health department.  

Be Prepared

The following measures can help a facility be prepared to quickly respond to a sewage backup event and may help minimize the impact on the facility’s operation:
  • Develop a list of equipment and fixtures that have a drain. What specific steps would you take if each piece of equipment or a combination were no longer operable due to a drainage problem?
  • Develop a contingency plan for toilets. If toilets no longer function, where will you and your employees find toilet facilities available for use?
  • Have procedures available for appropriate cleaning and disinfection after a sewage backup.
  • Maintain a list of contact information for people who can help you, such as:
    • Plumber/Drain cleaning service
    • Professional cleaning service
    • Sewage system installer/ contractor
    • Portable toilet rental service
    • Utility company
    • Septic tank pumping service
    • Local health department
    • Local/state building department

When a backup occurs…

The facility’s “Person-In-Charge” (PIC) is responsible for conducting both the initial and ongoing assessments to ensure consistent compliance with Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code requirements.
In the event of an emergency involving sewage backup, multiple factors should be considered when determining the appropriate food service operation response, including but not limited to:
  • The complexity and scope of food service operations;
  • The duration of the emergency event;
  • The impact on other critical infrastructure services (e.g. food, equipment, utensils, linens, and single service/single-use items, and employee health); and
  • The availability of alternative procedures that can be used to meet the requirements of the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code.
Depending on the severity of the backup, it may be necessary to close the operation until the necessary repairs and clean-up can be completed.


If there is a continuous or active overflow of sewage into the operation, the facility must discontinue operation immediately and take corrective actions to repair the back-up. In the case of plugged drain lines, the operator should contact a service company to find and remove the obstruction and replace any worn or damaged plumbing as needed.
If the onsite sewage treatment system is malfunctioning, contact a septage hauler that is registered with the local health department to pump the septic tank and haul away sewage to an approved disposal site until appropriate repairs can be completed.  A registered sewage treatment system installer may also be required for repairs to be made.  A sewage permit from the local health department or a plumbing permit from the local or state plumbing department may be required for the repair or installation of sewage system or plumbing equipment. If necessary, barricade the affected area to keep the public and employees away from areas having exposed sewage.   
Depending on the impact of the event, the following are temporary alternative procedures that may be taken to address specific affected food operations during a sewage backup emergency.  Local health department approval must be obtained before using any of these temporary measures:


If equipment directly connected to the plumbing system is either slow to drain or does not drain:
  • Remove the affected equipment/fixture from service;
  • Remove the obstruction or call a service company;
  • Thoroughly clean any spills with detergent solution followed by a disinfectant solution;
  • Keep food traffic away from the affected area;
  • Use other properly operating appliances or fixtures in the establishment.

Handwashing Sinks

If handwashing sinks in the establishment do not drain:
  • Chemically treated towelettes (wet-naps) may be used for cleaning hands ONLY if food exposure is limited, the food items offered are pre-packaged or otherwise protected from contamination by hands, no bare-hand contact with food will occur, and a functioning handwashing facility is available at the toilet room location; or
  • Hot water can be placed into an insulated container with a spigot which can be turned on to allow clean, warm water to flow over the hands. A container should be placed under the spigot to collect the waste water, which must be emptied into an operational utility/mop sink or toilet.  Provide suitable hand cleaner, disposable towels, and a waste receptacle. 
If appropriate alternative handwashing facilities cannot be provided, the facility should discontinue operation until the sink is repaired.


If toilet facilities do not drain:
  • Toilet rooms that are not conveniently located but still accessible to employees during all hours of operation may be used until service is restored.
The facility should discontinue operation if no alternate toilet facilities are available.

Food Preparation Sinks

If food preparation sinks do not drain, including all sinks required for thawing food, washing fruits and vegetables, and preparing food:
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator or as part of the cooking process;
  • Use fresh or refrigerated foods that do not require thawing;
  • Use packaged or canned fruits and vegetables that do not require washing;
  • Modify the menu to avoid procedures requiring the use of a food preparation sink.

Warewashing Sinks/Equipment

If warewashing sinks/equipment do not drain properly, including dish machines, three-compartment sinks, and pot sinks:
  • Discontinue dish/utensil washing and only use single-service/single-use utensils, tableware, etc.;
  • Discontinue affected operations after supply of clean equipment, utensils, and single-service items is exhausted;
  • Discontinue operation if the facility is unable to continue food preparation and service through use of single-service items.

Utility/Mop Sink

If the utility/mop sink does not drain:
  • Discontinue use of the utility/mop sink;
  • Dump mop water into a functioning toilet;
  • Discontinue operation if the physical facility cannot be maintained in a sanitary condition.


Recovery involves the necessary steps for returning to a normal safe operation and re-opening the facility. A food service operation that has been ordered or otherwise required to cease operations may not re-open until the local health department has granted authorization. 

Personal Health and Safety

The following measures are recommended for employees involved in clean-up:
  • Wear eye protection;
  • Wear rubber gloves and boots that can be washed and disinfected after the event;
  • Wear protective clothing such as coveralls;
  • Do not walk between the affected area and other areas of the establishment without removing footwear and protective clothing;
  • Follow label requirements for handling detergents, sanitizers, disinfectants, and other chemicals used in the cleaning process;
  • Immediately wash hands after working with contaminated materials and before engaging in food preparation activities (working with exposed food, clean equipment/utensils, unwrapped single service/single use articles, etc.);
  • Clean hands and exposed portions of the arms using a cleaning compound in a lavatory that is properly equipped by vigorously rubbing together the surfaces of lathered hands and arms for at least 20 seconds and thoroughly rinsing with clean, warm water;
  • Dry hands using disposable paper towels; and
  • Have janitorial staff clean and disinfect the lavatory faucets and other portions of the lavatory after use to prevent transferring any contamination to food service workers.

General Clean-Up

An assessment of the condition of the facility should be completed to determine whether facility staff can adequately clean and sanitize all affected areas, or a professional cleaning service with expertise in cleaning and disinfecting food service operations should be utilized.
  • Remove any standing sewage;  
  • Remove wet materials. Dispose of any materials that cannot be effectively cleaned and disinfected;
  • Floors, walls, furnishings, and carpet damaged beyond salvage must be removed and replaced as necessary; 
    • Carpets should either be removed or steam cleaned. 
  • Affected walls, floors, and equipment surfaces must be cleaned with soap and water, rinsed, and disinfected.
    • Use a detergent solution to clean floors, equipment, and other affected areas, followed by a clean water rinse.
    • Disinfect the floor and any other affected areas by following label instructions for disinfection.
    • Launder or discard mop heads and other cleaning aids that contacted sewage.
  • Allow the affected area to air-dry.
  • Any food equipment or utensils that have come in contact with sewage must be cleaned and disinfected, and then properly washed, rinsed and sanitized. 
    • Utensils and equipment that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized or are damaged beyond salvage must be discarded and replaced as necessary.

Linens, Single-Service/Single-Use Items

Linens that have been contaminated by the sewage backup should be properly laundered to remove contaminants or discarded.  For single-service/single-use items that have been in contact with sewage must be discarded.
  • Launder any linens or uniforms that come in contact with sewage.
    • Launder separately from other linens.
    • Use detergent, bleach, and hot water to launder linens.
  • Use a mechanical dryer for drying the clean linens.


If the food service operation has been temporarily closed, the local health department must be contacted prior to re-opening the food service operation to determine compliance.

General Food Salvage Assessment

Sewage can make foods unsafe to eat, especially if packaging is contaminated. Food that has come into contact with sewage must not be served or consumed and should be discarded. 

Disposal of Food

If it is determined that food must be discarded, store the food in an area designated for storage of condemned food, separate from food preparation and equipment storage, and secured in covered refuse containers or other isolated areas, to prevent either service to the public or accidental contamination of the facility and other food.
If foods must be retained until the distributor can credit the facility, they must be stored separately and clearly labeled as “NOT FOR SALE”.
Discarded perishable food may be stored in a refrigerated location separate from other food and held for credit until recorded by food supplier/distributor.
Small volumes of food to be discarded can be denatured with a cleaning product (i.e. bleach) and placed in a covered refuse bin outside the facility.
Large volumes of food should be stored in covered refuse containers in a secure location and removed by a refuse disposal company as soon as possible.
All food waste is to be disposed in accordance with state and local regulations.
Local landfills should be contacted prior to delivery of food from a private individual or carrier to ensure acceptance.

Click the following links for a printable version of Sewage Backup in a Food Service Operation:

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Loss of Water Service in a FSO

Loss of Water Service in a Food Service Operation

A sufficient supply of potable water is necessary in a food service operation for handwashing, food preparation, cleaning and sanitizing equipment, and other food service activities. Problems involving the water supply (including ice) are especially important since water may serve as a direct vehicle of contamination to food or food contact surfaces. 

Whether a food service operation is served by a public or private water supply, anticipated and unanticipated interruptions in the supply of potable water can occur. Anticipated interruptions include routine or scheduled maintenance on the pump or plumbing, or less commonly, the diversion of the water during certain hours each day due to rationing. Unanticipated interruptions include plumbing failure, fire department demands, supply contamination, or system failure due to accidents or natural disasters. 

When Water Service Is Interrupted…

In the event of an interruption of water service, the facility should promptly notify the local health department to determine the best course of action for the facility.

The local health department must decide, on a case-by-case basis, what actions are appropriate to protect the public health in the event of an interruption in the supply of potable water. Several factors should be considered when deciding the best course of action, including (but not limited to): the operation’s dependency on water (e.g. menu and nature of the operation); the anticipated duration of the water interruption; advance contingency planning; and the availability of alternate supplies of potable water, single-service tableware, single-use kitchenware and other resources.
A food service operation may be authorized to remain in operation during an interruption of its supply of potable water only if appropriate actions are taken by the operator to assure the safety of food, the cleanliness of utensils and equipment, and the personal hygiene of employees.

If the facility does not have the necessary resources to safely maintain operations during an interruption of water service, it may be required to temporarily cease operations.

Temporary Supply of Potable Water

An alternative supply must be protected from contamination and must provide enough water to accommodate the operations of the food service.  In addition, water haulers and water tanks used for transporting or storing potable water must be cleaned, sanitized and filled in an acceptable manner.

The facility may be able to obtain a temporary supply of potable water from:

  • Individual serving size containers of commercially bottled water,
  • Piping, tubing or hoses connected to an adjacent approved source, or
  • Bulk water containers filled from an approved source, such as a water tank truck.

Water supply interruptions need to be examined on a case-by-case basis, with attention given to the public health implications, to decide if the temporary source of water is safe and sufficient. 

Alternative Procedures

The food service operation’s activities should be evaluated.  The following alternative procedures may be considered and approved by the local health department:

  • Thawing of frozen foods: thaw only in refrigerator or as part of the cooking process.
  • Washing of produce:
    • Obtain and use prewashed packaged produce;
    • Use produce washed prior to interruption;
    • Use frozen/canned produce;
    • Wash fresh produce with potable water from an alternative approved source.
  • Spraying, dipping and soaking of produce: use potable water from an alternative source.
  • Preparing and cooking food, including reconstituting dried foods:
    • Use only food that was prepared prior to interruption;
    • Discontinue sale of prepared foods;
    • Use prepared food from an alternate approved source (i.e., local deli);
  • Use water from an alternative approved source;
  • Use ice prepared before interruption;
  • Do not use ice in preparing/serving beverages;
  • Purchase commercially packaged potable ice.
  • Preparing carbonated and other cold/hot beverages:
    • Replace with bottled or canned beverages;
    • Use potable water from an approved alternative source.
  • Handwashing by employees:
    • Use potable water from an approved alternative source;
    • Any alternative accepted for employee handwashing must accommodate regular and effective handwashing by employees;
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of tableware, kitchenware, vending machine components, equipment and surfaces:
    • Use only single-service tableware and single use kitchenware;
    • Use an approved alternative water source;
    • Take components to commissary for cleaning;
    • Use waterless cleaning or non-potable water for floors, garbage cans, etc.
  • Storing of dispensing utensils in dipper wells - Store utensils in food with handles extending out of food.
  • Using garbage grinders: dispose of garbage in proper containers with other refuse or in composting facility.
  • Flushing of employee toilets:
    • Use adjacent approved facilities, which are readily available;
    • Utilize waterless toilets (“porta-johns”).
    • Use non-potable water;
  • Flushing of customer toilets and lavatories:
    • Close these facilities;
    • Provide water from an alternative source.
    • Utilize waterless toilets (“porta-johns”)

 When Water Service Is Restored…

If a boil water advisory is issued after the water supply is restored, contact your local health department or public water supply immediately for instructions on safely complying with a boil water advisory and flushing facility water supply lines.

Click the following links for a printable version of  Loss of Water Service in a Food Service Operation:

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Power Outage in a FSO

Power Outage in a Food Service Operation

I.   Assessment

In the event of an interruption of electrical service in a food service operation, appropriate responses must be taken after an assessment of multiple factors, including but not limited to:

  • The complexity and scope of the food service operation;
  • The duration of the electrical service interruption;
  • The impact on critical infrastructure and services (example: refrigeration equipment); and
  • The availability of alternative procedures that can be used to meet the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code.

II.  Response

The following are temporary alternative procedures that may be considered to address specific affected food service operations during an extended interruption of electrical service:

Cold Food Holding: Refrigeration equipment is inoperable.

  • Alternative procedures:
    • Keep refrigeration/freezing equipment doors closed.
    • Note the time the power outage begins. Refer to the food lists on pages 3-4 in this document for disposition of Time/Temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS) food, and discard foods as applicable.
    • Pack TCS food in commercially made ice or dry ice (use precautions for using dry ice by using insulated gloves and venting the area before entering).
    • Relocate products in cases to walk-in boxes, freezers, or refrigerated trucks if safe temperatures cannot be maintained in the cases.
    • Do not put hot food in refrigeration equipment.

Ventilation: Mechanical ventilation is inoperable to remove smoke, steam, condensation, and fumes.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • Discontinue all cooking operations.

Lighting: Lack of artificial lighting for personal safety, food preparation, food handling, cleaning equipment/utensils, and cleaning the premises.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • Limit operation to daylight hours. Restrict operations to those that can be safely conducted in available natural light.
    • Provide adequate lighting using other power sources (e.g. battery-operated lantern, flashlight, etc.) if fire codes allow. Limit operation to those procedures that can be safely conducted using alternative lighting.

Cooking Equipment: Cooking equipment is no longer functional.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • Evaluate time and temperature of cooked foods to determine if they should be discarded.  Discard TCS foods that were in the cooking or re-heating process but did not reach a safe final temperature.
    • Discontinue cooking operations.

Hot Food Holding: Equipment for holding TCS food hot is inoperable.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • Note the time the power outage begins.  Discard all TCS food after 4 hours from being removed from temperature control (below 135° F).
    • Use an alternate heat source such as “canned heat” and monitor temperatures hourly.

Note: If power returns within 4 hours, promptly reheat food to 165° F.

Dishwashing Equipment: Mechanical equipment for cleaning and sanitizing utensils and tableware is inoperable.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • Wash, rinse and sanitize utensils in three compartment sink, if hot water is still available.
    • Use single-service utensils and tableware.
    • Discontinue operations that generate soiled utensils and tableware.

Water: The well serving the establishment no longer produces water.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • See “Interruption of Water Service” procedures.

Sewage Disposal: Sewage ejector pump(s) or other electrical equipment is no longer functional.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • Discontinue all operations. Contact the local health department for alternative options.

Electric Hot Water Heater: No hot water.

  • Alternative Procedures:
    • Restrict operation to serving only foods that do not require preparation, hand washing, or utensil washing, such as pre-packaged foods.
    • Discontinue operation until power is restored.

III. Recovery

Recovery involves the necessary steps for re-opening and returning to a normal safe operation.  A food service operation that was ordered or otherwise required to cease operations may not re-open until authorization has been granted by the local health district.

If the location was vacated during the power outage, upon return it is possible that the refrigeration equipment may be fully functioning and the food may be at proper temperature. However, if the duration of the power outage and the highest temperature of the food cannot be verified, then all TCS food must be discarded. TCS Foods may still be contaminated even if they smell or look ok.

Key areas to consider for returning to normal operation when power is restored:

  • Electricity, potable water, and/or gas services have been fully restored.
  • All circuit breakers have been properly re-set as needed.    
  • All equipment and facilities are operating properly including: lighting, refrigeration (back to operating temperature of 41° F or below), hot holding, ventilation, water supply, sewage pumps, hot water heaters, toilet facilities, ware washing machines and hand washing facilities.
  • Food contact surfaces, equipment and utensils are cleaned and sanitized prior to resuming food-handling operations. This includes ice bins in ice machines where ice has melted during the interruption.
  • Flush all water lines, change filters, etc.

Disposal of Food

Small volumes of food can be denatured (e.g. with bleach, a detergent or other cleaning product to render it unusable) or alternatively destroyed and placed in an outside refuse bin for removal. To discard large volumes of food, the food service operation should contact a disposal company for immediate transportation to a licensed landfill or food recycling facility.

Click the following links for a printable versions of Power Outage in a Food Service Operation:

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Fire in a FSO

Fires & Food Safety in a Food Service Operation

Be Prepared

  • Develop a plan for what to do in case of fire, including who should be called after hours?
  • Maintain contact information for people that can help, including:
    • Local health department
    • Police department
    • Insurance company
    • Restoration company for water and fire damage
    • Utility companies (electric, gas, etc.)
    • Attorney

Affected Operations

Customer and employee safety should be top priority.  A fire of any size can temporarily cause unsafe food service conditions.

A non-reportable fire is any small confined fire in a food service that has been extinguished using a simple device, such as a wet towel or pan lid.  All other fires must be reported to the regulatory authority.

A confined fire is a fire contained to a small incidental area or a single piece of equipment, the fire is extinguished using a simple fire-fighting device (i.e. hand-held extinguisher), and does not require extensive cleanup. Unaffected areas of the establishment may be able to remain open while clean-up and minor repairs are made.

Regardless of the size of the fire, operations should be discontinued if the process of fighting the fire contaminates food, equipment, utensils, linens, single service items, etc.  Typically, these fires are associated with the use of high pressure fire suppression devices (e.g. ventilation hood fire suppression system or professional fire department equipment).  Resume operations only after recovery steps have been completed.

Discontinue operations immediately if a fire causes extensive damage to equipment and/or the facility’s structure. Resume operations only after recovery steps have been completed.

A facility that was ordered or otherwise required to cease operations may not re-open until authorization has been granted by the regulatory authority.


Recovery involves the following necessary steps for re-opening and returning to a normal and safe operation:

  • Contact all appropriate agencies to determine if the building structure is safe and approved for occupancy.
  • If the facility requires renovation or repairs due to fire damage, the plans may need to be reviewed and a reopening inspection be conducted by the regulatory authority.
  • Sort the salvageable from the non-salvageable foods as quickly as possible.  See next page for additional guidance on salvaging.
  • Properly dispose of the non-salvageable food items.
  • Complete general clean-up of the facility, and clean and sanitize equipment and utensils.
  • Re-occupancy should be allowed only after the fire department has determined that the structure is safe.

General Cleanup Considerations

  • All areas affected by the fire must be cleaned and sanitized.
  • All damaged food products, equipment, utensils, linens, and single service/use items must be removed from the premises as necessary.
  • If food must be retained to receive credit from distributors, it must be stored separate from other food and clearly labeled as “NOT FOR SALE”.

Salvaging: General Considerations

If the quantities of food involved are large, it may be feasible to attempt to salvage the food for either human or animal consumption.  The following is a guide for handling specific food items:

  • Bottled beverages: Unless protected by a plastic outer wrap or in bottles with sealed screw-on lids, soft drinks in glass bottles are almost impossible to salvage. In addition, soft drinks in plastic bottles are almost always deemed unsalvageable due to heat and smoke.
  • Canned beverages: May be salvaged if the contents have not been subjected to excessive heat or fire. The cans must be cleaned, if necessary. If the cans have been subjected to excessive heat or are deemed uncleanable, the contents must be destroyed.
  • Dairy products: Dairy products should be destroyed with no attempt to salvage, due to vulnerable packaging and temperature requirements.
  • Sugars, candies, flour, cereal products, bakery products, dried beans, rice, and other grains: No attempt to salvage such products should be permitted due to vulnerable packaging.
  • Products in glass with metal screw-type or metal slip covers: This includes pickles, olives, catsup, steak sauces, salad dressings, syrups, etc. This type of container is impossible to clean or disinfect due to exposure of the threaded closure and must be destroyed.
  • Refrigerated and frozen food: Usually no salvage can be attempted unless the foods are stored in a completely enclosed walk-in or cabinet refrigerator or freezer and electrical service has not been interrupted for extended periods. Prompt removal of such foods to a suitable storage unit is necessary to save the product.
  • Produce – fresh or dried: Usually, no attempt to salvage can be permitted and all such products must be destroyed.
  • Canned goods: Where the heat and water damage has been minimal, canned goods can be salvaged quickly by cleaning the exterior surfaces and removing them to suitable storage areas away from the fire scene.
  • Single service items: The operator/regulator must consider soot residue, even on single service items that are still in plastic sleeves, due to static electricity and transfer. Some operators/regulators may think that the sleeves can be “wiped” off, and, because the items were wrapped, they should be okay for service, when in reality, they may not be okay.

Disposal of Food

If it is determined that food must be discarded:

  • The facility should document the type and amount of food, costs and the reason for disposal for insurance and regulatory purposes.
  • Remove to a designated condemned food storage area away from food preparation and equipment storage in secured, covered refuse containers or other isolated areas to prevent either service to the public or accidental contamination of the facility and other food.
    • Small volumes of food to be discarded can be denatured with a cleaning product (such as bleach) and placed in a covered refuse bin outside the facility.
    • Large volumes of food should be stored in covered refuse containers in a secure location and disposed of by a refuse disposal company as soon as possible should also be denatured.

Click the following links for a printable version of  Fires & Food Safety in a Food Service Operation:

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Vomit/Fecal Matter Cleanup

Clean-up Guidance for Vomit/Fecal Accidents in Food Service Operations

The 2016 Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code requires that all food service operations and retail food establishments have written procedures for employees to follow when responding to vomiting and diarrheal events.  Information from this document can help develop written procedures for a facility.

Note: Effective cleaning of vomitus and fecal matter in a food service operation or retail food establishment should be handled differently from routine cleaning procedures.

It is recommended that written procedures for cleaning up vomiting and diarrheal accidents include the following steps:

  1. Segregate the area.  It is recommended that all surfaces within a twenty-five foot radius of the vomit or diarrhea accident be segregated and properly cleaned and disinfected.
  2. Wear disposable gloves during cleaning. To help prevent the spread of disease, it is recommended that a disposable mask and/or cover gown (apron) be worn when cleaning liquid matter.
  3. Wipe up the matter with towels and dispose into a plastic garbage bag.
  4. Use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectant effective against Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus) following label directions or mix a chlorine bleach solution that is stronger than the chlorine solution used for general cleaning [CDC recommends 1000-5000 ppm or 2.5-12.5 fluid ounces of household bleach (5.25%) per gallon of water].
  5. Apply the disinfectant or bleach solution and allow it to remain wet in the affected area for at least 10 minutes. Allow to air dry. Dispose of any remaining disinfection solution once the accident has been cleaned up.
  6. Discard gloves, mask, and cover gown (or apron) in a plastic bag.
  7. Take measures to dispose of and/or clean and disinfect the tools and equipment used to clean up vomit and fecal matter.
  8. Properly wash hands.
  9. Discard any food that may have been exposed.
  10. Food contact surfaces that have been disinfected must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized prior to use to remove disinfectant residue and prevent contamination of food.
  11. Discard all garbage bags in the dumpster or waste receptacle. If any of the waste appears to contain blood, refer to the Ohio EPA guidelines for disposal of infectious waste (https://epa.ohio.gov/portals/34/document/guidance/gd_75.pdf)
  12. Minimize the risk of disease transmission through the prompt removal of ill employees, customers and others from areas of food preparation, service, and storage.

Additional Resources:

CDC Preventing Norovirus Infection: http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/preventing-infection.html.

U.S. EPA Registered Hospital Disinfectants Effective against Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus)https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-07/documents/20171207.listg_.pdf

Click the following links for a printable versions of  Clean-up Guidance for Vomit/Fecal Accidents in Food Service Operations:

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First Aid for Food Choking

The Ohio Administrative Code requires that licensed food service operations must maintain standards detailing first aid techniques designed and intended for use by a person without medical training to assist a choking victim.  The First Aid for Food Choking poster is provided by the Ohio Department of Health through the local health districts for licensed food service operations to meet this requirement. 

You can request a printed poster from the local health department that licenses your facility or download and print a copy of the poster by clicking one of the following links:

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