Food Businesses

During and after disasters, food businesses may be affected by:

  • power outages
  • floodwaters
  • contamination of the water supply
  • building damage.

Disasters affect the ability to prepare food in a safe manner.

Proper food handling and sanitation techniques will reduce the threat of food contamination and foodborne illness.

Visit from Environmental Health officers

Environmental Health officers will visit all food businesses in the affected areas as soon as possible.

Your business will be required to meet the same conditions as a routine inspection.

A health officer may order a food business to close if it has reopened and unsafe conditions exist.

Before restarting your food business

Before restarting your food business you must ensure that:

  • all unsafe or potentially hazardous food has been thrown out
  • electricity and gas services are restored, and all circuit breakers have been reset
  • the septic system, if you have one, is working correctly
  • all equipment and facilities have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitised
  • all equipment and facilities are operating properly - fridges below 5 degrees Celsius and freezers below -18 degrees Celsius
  • hot and cold potable water, under pressure, is available for hand washing and proper dish washing
  • the condition of the building does not endanger the safe handling of food and equipment.

If in doubt, throw food out, and wash your hands thoroughly.

Restocking your food business after disaster

In the event of a natural disaster or neighbourhood emergency, it is possible that stock held by food businesses may be damaged, destroyed or, in the case of food, be declared unfit for human consumption.

Depending on the size of the disaster or emergency, it could take time for food businesses to restock.

Below is a list of of priority consumer items that food businesses need to consider when restocking after a disaster or emergency.

Dry food

  • rice, pasta, noodles
  • soup mix
  • biscuits
  • breakfast cereals
  • peanuts and other nuts
  • dried vegetables and legumes
  • dried fruits

Tinned food

  • vegetables and legumes
  • fruits
  • meat and vegetable meals
  • fish and seafood
  • soup
  • pasta sauce


  • UHT fruit juice
  • UHT milk and powdered milk
  • bottled water
  • UHT custard and powdered custard

Other food

  • long-life cheese
  • fruit and vegetables with a long shelf life - potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, onions, apples and oranges
  • baby food or baby formula


  • nappies and wipes
  • toilet rolls
  • soap and shampoo
  • feminine hygiene products
  • rubbish bags
  • tissues and paper towels
  • house and laundry cleaning or disinfectant products
  • batteries
  • water sterilising tablets
  • mosquito repellent

Read about how to treat food in a disaster.

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