Backyard vege gardens hit by floodwaters are being warned to take precautions before consuming their home-grown produce.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) says fruit and vegetables that have been in contact with floodwaters may need to either be thoroughly washed or even thrown out.
EPA Chief Environmental Scientist, Professor Mark Taylor warned that all flood waters are considered to be contaminated and that could transfer to your vegetables.
“Some fruit and vegetables will be salvageable simply by washing them, but if your garden was flooded in the recent heavy rain events experienced around the state, if there’s any doubt, we always advise to be cautious and throw them out.”
Professor Taylor said EPA floodwater testing had shown highly variable rates of contamination by location and date of testing, which just heightened the need for caution. He advised:
Do not eat:
- leafy vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage, lettuce and kale
- produce that was already damaged before the flood. For example, a tomato with split skin with exposed flesh will not be safe to eat.
- raw soft fruits, such as strawberries or raspberries. They cannot be washed thoroughly, so they are only safe if they can be cooked.
Use caution before eating:
- vegetables with protective shells, husks or skins, such as peas and sweet corn. They should be thoroughly washed, peeled and cooked before eating
- fruits and vegetables that were immature at the time of flooding. Although they should be safe to eat by the time they are ready to harvest, they should still be washed thoroughly before eating.