Food Safety: A Key Component to Healthy Aging
By Kerry Robinson, RD for the Food Insight Blog
Note: We're excited to announce that we're now working with the International Food Information Council Foundation and their excellent website, FoodInsight.org. This blog was originally published there on 09/07/2010.
As a dietitian who previously worked with older adults, I experienced first-hand the importance of safe food handling from the kitchen to the dining room table. And, while it’s certainly true that food safety is important for everyone, older adults need to be especially vigilant in their efforts to practice safe food handling.
The body undergoes several changes as we age, including a weakened immune system and changes in our organs and body systems. As with most illnesses, the body isn’t able to “bounce back” quite as easily as we age – recovery from a foodborne illness can be a lengthy process, and the rate of hospitalization and risk of death in severe cases of foodborne illness can be much greater.
The good news is that there are many actions that older adults (and those who care for them) can take to decrease the risk of foodborne illness. From in-home meal preparation to dining out, here are a few tips to be food safe!
Eating at Home
Follow these four basic steps to food safety:
- Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate: Avoid cross-contamination.
- Cook: Cook foods to proper temperatures.
- Chill: Refrigerate foods promptly.
[See The Basics: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill for more resources, including podcasts.]
Food Shopping at the Grocery Store
- Check “Sell-By” dates on all foods and beverages.
- Check for quality and integrity of packaging.
- Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags and keep separate from uncooked fruits and vegetables and other food items in your shopping cart.
- Be sure to purchase pasteurized dairy products (milk and cheese) and juices.
[For more tips, see our blog and video, “Start at the Store: 7 Ways to Prevent Foodborne Illness.”]
- Refrigerate your leftovers within two hours after your meal.
- Avoid entrées containing uncooked ingredients, such as eggs or meat.
- Opt to order from a menu rather than choosing the buffet.
[Check out our Egg Safety and Eating Out blog for practical ways to be safe.]
These food safety tips are practical, simple ways you can decrease the risk of foodborne illness for yourself and your loved ones. For more specific guidance, it’s best to contact your physician or health care provider.
No matter your age, food safety is an important cornerstone of a healthful diet. What do you plan to do today to be food safe?
We should be sincere about what we are eating. So what we eat our body reacts on that. But I prefer fresh food which are produces naturally. Not just buying from the supermarket or departmental store. Cos farm foods and fast foods are also not good for health. Farm foods like chicken, beef, vegetables etc. which are produced with implementing lots of genetic science rather we should go for food which are naturally created in open field chicken and cow running on the field and the vegetables which has no genetic science to look bigger or growing huge number. if we can do this I think we can be more safe regarding health issues. by the hague convention we can raise voice for something like natural food for good health. http://www.slogold.net/the_apostille.html
i think that food is very important for us and i like it alot.
As someone that has worked with the elderly, this is unfortunately common. Instances of hoarding increase with age, most likely due to recent trauma or loss. For this reason, it can be difficult for the elderly person to throw away perishable items. They may feel that throwing away an expired or potentially tainted food item because they feel it is a)wasteful b)it is food that reminds them of or was prepared by a lost loved one c) they do not feel they are in danger of becoming ill. It is extremely important to find a means of expressing the dangers of consuming expired or tainted food products to the older friends in our lives. If you cannot, I highly recommend contacting a social worker or some outside party that can speak to the elder in your life for you. To find the local elder service provider in your area visit: http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx.
I do not purchase anything that comes from countries, China, Russia or Mexico. In the winter I do not eat salads especially something from restaurants as you don't konw where their greens are from. I do buy produce that is from the US or Canada. I even read labels on cans and do not purchase anything from other countries I listed. Who would think Pennsylvania Dutch Mushrooms came from China.