Health, wellbeing and food safety

health advice

Floodwater can often be contaminated with sewage, farm run off and other hazardous materials.

One of the main risks from contact with floodwater is gastroenteritis, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting. There are many different types of gastroenteritis, and the severity of the illness varies.

Find more information in gastroenteritis and health advice on Auckand Regional Public Health Service website.

Follow the links for health advice about looking after your health after the floods and cleaning up safely after a flood.


We appreciate this will be a very difficult time for many people.

It is understandable to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, anxious or angry, even if you’ve not been impacted personally by the flooding. Everyone reacts differently to difficult events, and some may find this time more challenging than others. Remember it’s ok to not feel ok.

For help with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, call or text Need to Talk? on 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Other organisations that provide mental wellbeing support include:

Specialist emotional support services for young people include:

Please reach out for help if you need it. Kia kaha.


Contaminated food

Floodwater can carry bacteria that can contaminate food.

  • Throw away all food and drinking water that has come in contact with floodwater, including things stored in containers. It is impossible to know if containers have been damaged and the seals compromised.
  • Do not eat garden produce if the soil has been flooded. Clean up and remove debris and sprinkle gardens with lime.
  • Do not eat shellfish from the river mouth or harbour after a flood.
  • Follow any boil water notice instructions from your local authorities, if they are issued.

Preparing and making food

Maintaining hygiene around food preparation and cooking is really important, as surfaces and utensils may have been contaminated during the flood.

  • Always wash and dry your hands before preparing food – if water is in short supply, keep some in a bowl with disinfectant.
  • Ensure all kitchen utensils and food preparation surfaces are clean before use. Rinse thoroughly in safe water, then disinfect by immersing for 1 minute in a solution of 500 ml (about 2 cups) of plain, unperfumed household bleach in 10 litres of water. Rinse again in safe water. Alternatively, boil all utensils for 1 minute and let cool.
  • Decontaminate any surfaces that may have come into contact with floodwater.
  • Cook food thoroughly.
  • Cover all food with plastic wrap or store in waterproof containers.
  • Rubbish containing food scraps must be protected from flies and rats by wrapping the scraps or putting them in a sealed container.

Food safety after a flood | Ministry of Health website

Food safety in natural disasters | Ministry of Primary Industries website