Adults age 65 and older are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death from foodborne illness. This increased risk of foodborne illness is because organs and body systems go through changes as people age:
- The gastrointestinal tract holds onto food for a longer period of time, allowing bacteria to grow.
- The liver and kidneys may not properly rid the body of foreign bacteria and toxins.
- The stomach may not produce enough acid. The acidity helps to reduce the number of bacteria in our intestinal tract.
- Underlying chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, may also increase a person’s risk of foodborne illness.
Choose Safer Food
Learn about safer food choices for people with a higher risk for foodborne illness, including older adults.
If you are 65 or older, or prepare food for someone who is, always follow the four steps:
Clean: Wash hands, utensils and surfaces often. Germs can spread and survive in many places.
Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods, so keep them separate.
Cook: Food is safely cooked only when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick.
Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest between 40°F and 140°F.
Listeria: Older Adults (CDC)