Food Safety After a Fire
Post-2017 Fire Research & Resources
All from University of California Cooperative Extension Sonoma County and the Citizen Science Initiative, following the October 2017 Northern California fires:
- Produce Safety after Urban Wildfire - Updates, reports, news, and resources
- Produce Safety Post-Wildfire
Effects of Wildfires on FDA-Regulated Establishments (FDA, letter 12-19-17 to California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Department of Public Health) (PDF 1.8 MB)
- FDA Compliance Policy Guides, Chapter 5 – Foods, Colors, and Cosmetics (FDA)
- FDA Compliance Policy Guide Sec. 675.200: Diversion of Adulterated Food to Acceptable Animal Feed Use (FDA)
- Chemicals, Metals, and Pesticides in Food (FDA)
- Guidance for Industry: Action Levels for Poisonous or Deleterious Substances in Human Food and Animal Feed (FDA)
For Growers and Testing Laboratories
The following resources may help growers and testing laboratories determine appropriate testing methods for chemical and metal contaminants in foods.
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) For total PCB analysis, FDA recommends methods described in Volume 1 of FDA’s Pesticide Analytical Manual (PAM), Chapter 3, Chapter 5, and Appendix I.
- For individual PCB congener analysis, FDA recommends methods published by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Method 1668C. Chlorinated Biphenyl Congeners in Water, Soil, Sediment, Biosolids, and Tissue by HRGC/HRMS, April 2010. ( as PDF 1.03 MB)
- Other contaminants as appropriate to the specific wildfire and crop situation. For example, if it is known that a significant amount of pesticide products were stored at an establishment burned by the wildfire, the grower may consider testing salvaged crop for possible pesticide contamination. Analytical testing methods for pesticides can be found in FDA’s Pesticide Analytical Manual.
- Tolerances for pesticides can be found in 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 180.
- Toxic Elements, including cadmium, mercury, lead, and arsenic. Analytical testing methods for toxic elements can be found in FDA’s Elemental Analysis Manual (EAM) for Food and Related Products.
Additional External Resources
- Emissions of Organic Air Toxics from Open Burning (US EPA, 2002) (PDF 1.8 MB)
- Fires and Food Safety (USDA FSIS, August 2013)
- Management after Wildfire (Natural Resources Conservation Service, January 2006) (PDF 281 KB)
- Smoke Taint (The Australian Wine Research Institute)
- Wildfire Emergency Response Plan (Arizona Department of Health Services) (PDF 1.5 MB)
- Estrellan, C.R., and Lino, F., Review: Toxic emissions from open burning. Chemosphere, 80(3), 193-207. (PDF 293 KB)
- Kennison, K.R., Wilkinson, K.L.; Williams, H.G., Smith,J.H., and Gibberd, M.G., 2017. Smoke-derived taint in wine: effect of postharvest smoke exposure of grapes on the chemical composition and sensory characteristics of wine. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 55: 10897-10901. (PDF 40 KB)
- Nakao, T., Aozasa, O., Ohta, S., and Miyata, H., 2002. Formation of dioxin analogs by open-air incineration of waste wood and by fire of buildings and houses concerning Hanshin Great Earthquake in Japan. Chemoshere, 46(3), 429-437.
- Statheropoulos, M. and Karmaa, S., 2007. Complexity and origin of the smoke components as measured near the flame-front of a real forest fire incident: A case study. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 78(2), 430-437. (PDF 161 KB)