Those molds and invisible germs in the refrigerator can actually kill you, particularly if you are over age 65. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that globally every year one in 10 people are sickened from eating contaminated food – 420,000 die, many of them children and the elderly.
In 2015, WHO dedicated their World Health Day to help the public understand the essentials of food safety and protection from food poisoning and food-borne illnesses. Across the planet, unsafe food can lead to more than 200 health issues including diarrhea, parasites, development stunning and cancers. Many older adults live with chronic health conditions, which can make them more susceptible to food-borne infections. Also, the elderly with cognitive and vision limitations may read food expiration labels and cooking instructions incorrectly.
To prevent microbial hazards in food, follow these basic safety tips:
- Clean. When handling and preparing foods, frequently wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, and clean surfaces that foods touch. Rinse fruits and vegetables with water, including melons.
- Separate. Avoid cross-contaminating foods by using a separate cutting board, plates and utensils when handling and cooking raw meat, seafood and poultry.
- Cook. Food safety guidelines recommend that most foods be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 71° C, measured with a food thermometer. A number of countries provide a chart (from Canada) of safe internal food temperatures that you can keep handy in the kitchen.
- Chill. Always refrigerate or freeze perishable foods and leftovers within two hours of purchase or use (one hour when the temperature is 32° C or above). The refrigerator's temperature should be 4° C or below and checked with an appliance thermometer.
To help ensure older loved ones are protected from food pathogens, Right at Home caregivers can shop for safe, clean foods; properly store and cook foods; and provide sanitized kitchen cleanup.
Which food safety tips could benefit your elderly loved ones the most?