If your food business has been affected by flooding you must ensure:

  • premises are restored to a safe and hygienic state before reopening for trade
  • all affected food and drinks are disposed of
  • thorough cleaning and disinfecting is carried out
  • you contact your insurance company before disposing of any equipment
  • the safety of any electrical or gas equipment is checked by professionals

If you are in any doubt about the need for disposal, or whether equipment can be cleaned/disinfected properly, need a certificate for insurance purposes, or want help with disposing of goods, contact us. There may be a charge for some services.


  • all unopened food (including cans) which has been in contact with floodwater must be disposed
  • all opened food should be disposed of whether or not they have come into direct contact with floodwater as they are likely to have become damp


  • all packaged drinks must be disposed of, including cans, bottles and cartons that have been in contact with floodwater
  • ensure discarded drinks cannot be consumed by anyone by pouring them away or having them collected by your waste company
  • wooden beer casks that have been in contact with floodwater must be discarded
  • metal barrels of drink may be used, but only if floodwater has not come into close contact with any outlet or inlet on the barrel
  • tell your supplier about any barrels you are returning that have come into contact with floodwater, so they can take the necessary precautions in dealing with these
  • care must be taken to ensure that they cannot be consumed (e.g. pour them away, or have them collected by your waste company)
  • if the floodwater contained diesel, then any containers that have come into contact with the floodwater must be disposed of.
If you require a certificate for insurance purposes, or need help in disposing of goods, then contact the Public Protection team at public.protection@york.gov.uk.  A charge of £49.82 +VAT is made for issuing a certificate; the disposal charge is dependant upon amount.

Cleaning equipment and surfaces

It is important that you clean your premises thoroughly before you start trading again. Areas that require close attention include:

  • food preparation surfaces (eg work tops)
  • kitchen furniture (eg tables/shelves/cupboards)
  • food processing equipment, refrigerators etc.
  • crockery, utensils, chopping boards, pots, pans, storage containers etc.

Firstly you need to decide which items can be cleaned satisfactorily. Any badly damaged, cracked or chipped crockery or equipment cannot be cleaned properly, so must be disposed of. Some equipment, although in sound working order, may not be easy to clean and disinfect.

Equipment such as fridges, freezers etc where the motor or fan is located in, or directly connects with, the main body of the unit, must be disposed of if the motor or fan has been in contact with floodwater. It is not possible to clean and disinfect this equipment adequately.

If door seals to fridges or freezers are damaged they cannot be adequately cleaned and disinfected. The seals must be replaced before the unit is used. If it is not possible to replace the seals then the unit must be discarded.

Where equipment has a smooth interior, and does not connect directly with a motor or fan, then it may be possible to properly clean and disinfect the unit. Contact us if you are unsure and need advice.

Once you know which items you can thoroughly clean, first use hot soapy water then use disinfectant or sanitiser that meets British Standard EN 1276:1997 or British Standard EN 13697:2001. This information should be found on the label of the product. It is important that you use the disinfectant/sanitiser in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions for it to be effective.

Health and safety

You should not use any electrical equipment or electric circuits (eg sockets, light switches) that have been flooded until they have been checked and declared safe by a qualified electrician.

It is important that gas appliances are inspected by a Gas Safe registered engineer before they are used. The appliances may look and appear to be working normally, but the flue or ventilation systems which are essential for normal operation may have been affected by floodwater.

Business rates

You may be able to claim an 'empty property exemption' to your business tax rates if you have been closed due to flooding. Contact our business rates team with details of your situation including the date your business became flooded by email: business.rates@york.gov.uk or tel: 01904 551140.

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