Dear Barbara: We recently had a fire in our kitchen, which is connected to an open pantry. The kitchen was quite a mess, but I have a question about the food in the pantry. Is it still OK to use? A lot of it is canned goods, and I would think that would be OK. There are some jars that seem OK, but I don’t know about boxed dry foods that have not been opened. — Eileen from Sacramento
Dear Eileen: According to the USDA Food Safety Division, the food in your pantry is not OK. They say to discard food that has been near a fire. The heat of the fire, smoke fumes, and chemicals used to fight the fire can damage food exposed to it. Food in cans or jars may appear to be okay, but the heat from a fire can activate food spoilage bacteria.