Food Safety Tips for Seniors

Food Safety Tips for Seniors

Foodborne illnesses can be passed along to young and old alike, however the elderly tend to be much more susceptible to this kind of problem. As humans age, our immune system changes and weakens. In addition, the digestive system and intestines slow down production of helpful bacteria, and stomach acids designed to help kill and combat foodborne germs fail to work correctly. Malnutrition can also play a role in the elderly’s ability to withstand foodborne illnesses, as well as the decreased effective help of antibiotics. Less nutrients being absorbed into the body can have serious affects on its ability to fight off viruses and germs. Due to these problems, it is especially important for the elderly and their family or friends to know how to stay safe and avoid foodborne related illness.

 

Food Safety at Home

Simple cleanliness should rule the day at home. Wash your hands every time you use the restroom. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling any foods. Storing all meats and vegetables in sealed containers can also aid in avoiding illness. Be sure that raw meat never touches anything other than the cutting board, this will help ensure that cross contamination does not occur and leak bacteria into other foods in proximity to the raw food. Cooking all meats to the correct temperature, especially chicken or poultry products, will eliminate the growth of unhealthy bacteria and help prevent food poisoning from undercooked meat. Refrigerate all leftovers immediately in a sealed container to prevent bacterial growth. Clean all counter tops and surfaces consistently, so that any food that does touch it will not pick up germs, or dangerous forms of foodborne bacterium.

 

Tips for Eating Out

Most people, not just the elderly, enjoy eating out and spending time with friends at various restaurants. When dining out, it is important to make sure when ordering meats such as steak or hamburger, that it is cooked to well-done, this will help decrease the odds of bacteria existing in the food. If need be, take your own utensils to eat with, so you’re 100% positive they are clean. Just like at home, always wash your hands before eating, and after using the restroom. Do not use pubic restroom towels unless they are disposable and untouched. When possible air-dry your hands under heated dryers and avoid touching restroom door handles. Pay special attention to salad bars, since they can often have food sitting out for hours at a time under hot lights. Mayonnaise and mayo-based dressings should be avoided if they are not cold. Take a look around at the restaurant’s general cleanliness, if you feel uncomfortable about it, then you may not want to eat at that particular establishment.

 

Leftovers and Food Storage Tips

All food that is kept to eat later on should be stored in a sealed container of some kind. Do not mix different kinds of food when storing them. Instead, store each dish or ingredient separately. Zip-top bags make great alternatives to Tupperware containers, and do just as good of a job, they can also cut down on the amount of bacteria on the container since they are disposable and are typically thrown out after a single use. Make sure your refrigerator is working properly, and that it is at a fairly low and even temperature. Do not keep leftovers for more than a few days, as food can spoil after that time, even when refrigerated. When warming these foods up, be sure they get warmed up all the way through to avoid any lingering bacteria.

 

Resources

Symptoms, Risk, & Diagosis – The basics of what everyone should know about food-borne illness.

Restaurants & Foodborne Illness – Here is how restaurants can be a very dangerous place and can often breed food-borne related germs.

Tips For Playing It Safe – Here are some very simple tips to help people avoid getting food-borne illness.

Overseas Travel – Many elderly people enjoy traveling; here are some tips to avoid getting sick from food while overseas.

Food Safety Resources – A good list of resourceful information about food safety, from the CDC.

Bacteria – More information on the various bacteria and viruses that can cause food-borne illness.

Reducing the Risks – What people of all ages can do to help reduce the risk of contracting foodborne illness.

Foodborne Basics – Here are some good basic facts and what people should know about this type of bacteria and how to prevent it.

Myths & Facts – A list of ten myths & facts about food-borne illness.

Symptoms & Strains – Use this chart to help identify various physical symptoms, and match them up with possible strains of the illness.

 

 

 

 

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