FREDERICTON (GNB) – The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, released the following statement today to clarify health messaging related to wild, edible plants exposed to floodwater:

Over the past few days, there have been many reports related to the consumption of produce grown in flood-affected areas.

The immediate concern of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health lies with wild, edible plants that are commonly consumed in New Brunswick.

These plants, such as fiddleheads, are very popular and are harvested from along riverbanks at this time of year.

In southern regions of the St. John River valley that have been affected by extensive flooding, these types of plants are potentially contaminated and may be unsafe to consume.

Floodwaters may have contained untreated sewage, fuel or other contaminants, and plants such as fiddleheads could have been exposed.

This does not mean all wild, edible plants in the province should not be consumed; only those from flood-affected areas.

Fiddleheads are an unregulated plant and it is the responsibility of any individual or business selling them to ensure that it meets the requirements of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act.

The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health provides the public with annual advice on safer consumption of fiddleheads.

In terms of other commercially grown produce, it is far too early to predict what steps will be necessary.

Our priority is always the health and safety of New Brunswickers, and the Department of Health is committed to working alongside the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries to conduct a further review and assessment of potential impacts to croplands.

We will provide further details and advice as New Brunswick continues to recover from this flood.