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FDA Warns of Crops Exposed to Floodwater

Oranges are among the products in jeopardy after the hurricanes

Oranges and Crops Hurricane Damage Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Damage to the agriculture industry in Florida included these greenhouses in Homestead, which suffered when Hurricane Irma pummeled much of the state.

There’s concern over the food we eat after hurricanes Harvey and Irma pounded Texas and Florida — two states that produce a lot of crops for the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says: “We play an integral role, working with states, in protecting the safety of the food supply — both human and animal food.” Last week the agency provided more information to farmers on the proper handling of crops that have been exposed to floodwaters.

One of the biggest crops affected in Florida, the Orange State, is citrus. Paul Meador has farmed the crop for years. Following Hurricane Irma, more than 60 percent of his crop was either in floodwater or in dirt. "There's nothing there to salvage, no. They're too immature," he told CBS News. The majority of oranges farmed in Florida are used for orange juice. Even orange trees that survived the hurricane and flood may die off because of the stress the weather had on the trees.

This is just one more blow for Florida, the world's second-largest orange juice producer, as farmers are still rebuilding their crop since the 2004 hurricanes and fighting a crop-killing disease called citrus greening.

In Texas, Hurricane Harvey has greatly damaged the cotton and rice crops. Though the crops were mostly harvested, storage centers and fields holding the goods were damaged — likely leading to contamination.

“Grains and similar products stored in bulk can also be damaged by flood waters. These flood damaged products should not be used for human and animal food," the FDA said. The agency has also noted that “rice and other crops that were harvested and stored safely before storms hit should not be considered impacted by these events.”

Although crop damage assessments are still underway, it’s likely we will feel the impact in our wallets. “That will translate to higher prices in the grocery aisles for everything from tomatoes to orange juice,” according to USA Today.

The FDA made clear it will continue to work to “ensure that the food we serve our families is safe and that consumers have confidence in the products they consume.”