Floods can have a devastating impact on your business and community. Here’s what you need to know if your restaurant or foodservice operation is affected by flooding.

Your facilities and equipment

  • If your property has sustained flood damage, loss of power, water, or other municipal services, you may need approval from local health authorities and fire inspectors to re-open your business.
  • Structural parts of the building like walls, pipes, the ceiling, and vents must be disinfected and repaired to remove mould. Water damaged wallboard must be destroyed, but cement walls with mould damage can be reconditioned.
  • Wash all surfaces like floors, walls and ceilings using potable water and hot detergent. Rinse off residue and then sanitize them.
  • Clean exhaust systems and hoods. Replace water damaged ventilation systems that can’t be thoroughly disinfected. Always replace all ventilation air filters.
  • Ensure that these services and equipment are fully functioning at your restaurants:
    • electricity
    • gas
    • drinking water supply and boiling/cooling systems
    • washrooms including hand-washing with clean water, soap, towels, hand sanitizer, and toilets
    • cooking, refrigerating and freezing food equipment and surfaces
    • dispose all waste water and rubbish
  • Check that the condition of building structure, surface finishes and fittings enables you to handle/prepare any open food hygienically (e.g. particles won’t drop into food).
  • Ensure that rodents/pests are not present. Remove any dead pests and sanitize food contact surfaces.
  • Seal all openings into the facility to prevent future entry of pests or rodents.
  • Dispose contaminated or spoiled food in closed containers to prevent rodent and fly breeding grounds.

Your food: If in doubt, throw it out

  • Discard all food and packaging materials that have been submerged in flood waters, unless the food is in a hermetically sealed can that has not been damaged. This also applies to refrigerated and frozen food.
  • Do not salvage food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, or similar containers that have been water damaged.
  • Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans or retort pouches can be saved if you remove labels, and disinfect them. Re-label containers, and include the expiration date.

Your supplies

  • Identify priority products and negotiate delivery with suppliers to keep your business running.
  • Only accept food from a licensed and approved source.
  • Consider restricting hours, menu offerings, or consolidating operations to deal with product shortages.

For a complete guide to food safety controls in a foodservice operation refer to Restaurants Canada’s Food Safety Code of Practice for Canada’s Foodservice Industry.

Canadian Red Cross has published a helpful Guide to Flood Recovery. Download it free at

Please note: this information is meant to be used as a guideline only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Restaurants Canada has compiled this information using information from: Ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development, Canada Revenue Agency, Service Canada, Mississippi Hospitality Association – Chefs of the Coast Disaster Checklist, and Government of New Zealand – Restarting a food business after an emergency.