Food Safety for Older Adults

food safety for older adults

Millions of people in Australia get foodborne infections every day, and some of those people are hospitalized, become seriously ill, and even die from foodborne illnesses. People with weaker immune systems, especially older adults, are at higher risk.

People older than 65 have weaker immune systems,  and their digestive system has also slowed down. Food stays in their bodies for a more extended period as it is metabolized at a slower rate. Their kidneys and liver may also be weaker and filter out fewer toxins and harmful bacteria. Food safety is imperative for older adults to protect their health.

To avoid foodborne illnesses and practice proper food safety, older adults should follow basic food safety rules:

Keep up personal hygiene: Before handling food, wash your hands with soap and water, with extra attention to your nails.

Keep kitchens and cooking utensils clean: Kitchen surfaces should be wiped down before and after food preparation. Different utensils should be used for different foods.

Clean produce well: Fruits and vegetables should be washed, scrubbed, and dried. However, raw chicken should not be washed.

Separate food while preparing ingredients: Uncooked food should be prepared separately from cooked or ready to eat food to avoid cross-contamination.

Cook food to the right temperature: When food reaches a certain internal temperature, the germs and bacteria that make you sick are killed, and the food is safe to consume. The temperature varies by which type of food you are cooking.

Store food at the right temperature: It is important to understand which foods can be left out, which food must be refrigerated, and which food needs to be frozen.

Avoid certain food practices: some foods are at higher risk than others and should be avoided. For example, choose pasteurized milk and eggs over unpasteurized and avoid uncooked seafood like sushi and ceviche.  

As we get older, we have to take more precautions for our health, and keeping a close eye on the food that we are consuming is very important. Food safety is essential to avoid any foodborne illnesses that could be quite severe or life-threatening. If you’re interested in learning more about food safety, you can take online food safety courses. The Australian Institute of Accreditation offers a great Food Safety Supervisor course in Queensland that can teach you more about the importance of food safety.

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