Elderly Nutrition Food Safety
Elderly nutrition food safety is of primary concern now, especially due to an increase in food contamination, particularly in raw food. One of the elderly nutrition problems is a real need for highly nutritious fresh food on the one hand; and on the other hand, higher sensitivity to contaminants that are found in many foods that are raw or fresh. It is important to take a look at food safety, how contamination occurs, and how it particularly affects elderly issues of health.
In recent years there has been an increase in food scares regarding contamination. The elderly are especially an at-risk population for this. The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) estimates that about 76 million Americans become ill each year from food contamination. About 5,000 people die. The USDA assures us that the increase in food recalls and warnings is not because the food industry has become more careless. It's because inspections have become more efficient, leading to more contaminant discoveries – even before they become big problems. This is good news for elderly nutrition food safety.
It is not uncommon, as you know, for harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals from pesticides, human contaminants, viruses, and parasites to get on or in our food. Sickness from food contamination is often called “microbial foodborne illness.” It has become the primary food safety problem. And because it involves important raw fruits and vegetables that some must then eliminate, this can then become an elderly nutrition food safety problem as well.
Food Contamination Symptoms
The following food contamination symptoms may also appear to be the same as for other elderly health problems. The elderly, those with weak immune systems, and those with chronic diseases are most at risk. Although elderly nutrition problems can tie in with not getting enough fresh or raw food, you can see from these symptoms the danger of not being careful. Always see a doctor if you experience any of the symptoms below, for correct diagnosis.
- Stomach cramps
- Upset stomach
Elderly nutrition food safety stemming from contamination can be solved to a great measure by taking some simple steps. Some must be carried out within the food industry from the start. Farmers and food handlers should obviously wash their hands, wash surfaces food comes into contact with (especially raw meat, poultry, shellfish and fish), and keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, shellfish and fish. But many steps can be done at home.
If careful, it is still possible to eat fresh food to eliminate
elderly nutrition problems
due to lack of good vitamins and minerals in real food. These easy steps will ensure elderly nutrition food safety.
What You Can Do
A Special Caution About Raw Foods
- As you shop and prepare food, keep the potential of elderly nutrition problems in mind. Shop for the freshest foods highest in nutritional value, but be aware of food types and raw foods.
- Keep raw meats, poultry and fish separate.
- Also keep raw fruits and vegetables separate from cooked and ready-to-eat items (both while shopping and at home).
- Separating foods can eliminate cross-contamination.
- Be aware of how you store food in your fridge and cupboards – these areas can also become contaminated, especially by uncooked foods including fruits and vegetables.
- Once home, always wash your hands before and after handling raw and uncooked foods.
- Do not wash or rinse meat and poultry – this can cause splatter around the sink, counter and other areas with contaminated water.
- Do wash all raw fruits and vegetables (except those with removable skins such as oranges and bananas, of course).
- Read packaging labels for produce in bags to check if it is “prewashed.”
- Always keep appropriate food refrigerated – check directions on packaging.
- Check expirations dates and use food by that date or dispose of it.
- Keep raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat items separate while preparing food, and when storing as well – a big elderly nutrition food safety issue.
- Refrigerate food immediately after shopping.
- Keep the refrigerator below 40 F degrees.
- Set the freezer at about 0 degrees.
- Because vision problems are widespread elderly issues, reading temperatures in the fridge and freezer, as well as visually identifying food gone bad, can be difficult. It’s a good idea for another family member or caregiver to check the fridge and freezer from time to time.
- Purchase an appliance thermometer and periodically check fridge and freezer temps.
- Follow instructions for defrosting food so it is done correctly.
- Avoid unpasteurized products such as milk or juice.
- Cook food thoroughly at a temperature high enough to kill microorganisms. Read cooking directions on labels.
- Hot food should be kept above 140 degrees.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure food is not undercooked.
- Eggs and foods with egg products must be cooked thoroughly. Do not eat raw egg.
- Leftovers should also be re-heated to high temperatures to kill any bacteria growth.
- A big precaution for elderly nutrition food safety -- throw leftovers away after a maximum of 4 days. Just because they appear to be OK does not mean they are.
And this is a big caution for elderly nutrition food safety. Raw foods do play a big part in elderly nutrition problems – they are needed, but some may need to be avoided because of the greater risk of becoming sick. Those specializing in elderly health recommend avoiding many raw (fresh) foods – see below. Why?
Raw foods, particularly if grown in other countries that do not have the same regulations as the United States, can be unsanitary. And even though the U.S. does regulate our food industry, it is impossible to know how all farmers and food handlers have been dealing with our food. Even if you wash raw food well, you cannot necessarily remove all of the bacteria. This can be very dangerous to elderly health. Ask your doctor or a dietitian about alternate sources for elderly nutrition needs, including supplemental vitamins and minerals.
But why do seniors in particular become ill from raw foods more frequently? Why is this an elderly nutrition problem? It's less easy for elderly people to fight off germs. Immune systems are not as strong. Many senior health care regimens include serious treatments for such diseases as cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease. These can also weaken the system. So germs in food, and in particular, raw food, put an elderly person more at risk. Some medications can upset the stomach, and raw foods especially those that may contain potentially harmful bacteria, are harder to digest.
Which raw foods should be avoided?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to ensure elderly nutrition food safety, the following raw foods should be avoided:
- Raw shellfish, such as oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops.
- Raw fish, sushi included.
- Raw meat or poultry.
- Soft cheeses such as feta, brie, blue, and Mexican-style.
- Raw or lightly cooked eggs or foods made with such egg products, including salad.
- Raw or unpasteurized milk or cheese.
- Certain dressings, cookie dough, cake batter, sauces, and drinks such as eggnog, that have raw ingredients.
- Raw sprouts.
- Fruit and vegetable juices that have not been pasteurized.
Within the United States, most juices have been specially treated to kill bacteria, making them very safe to drink. The FDA does require a warning label to be put on all juices that have not been treated, including some organic juices. The label says:
This product has not been pasteurized and thereforemay contain harmful bacteria that can cause seriousillness in children, the elderly, and persons with a weakimmune system.
Watch for these labels. It is recommended that elderly nutrition food safety include pasteurized products. Be aware also, of raw foods that may have been grown in other countries – check labels and signs in the grocery store. Another tip – since raw fruits and vegetables are usually an excellent source of good elderly nutrition, consider cleaning them with a fruit and vegetable wash made to remove many contaminants, wax, soil, dirt, etc. Keep in mind, as well, that some elderly health issues make digestion of raw foods difficult in general.
It is crucial to be watchful about eating nutritious foods. According to the Centers for Disease Control, many elderly issues and health problems can be prevented simply by careful nutrition. We have lots of ideas on our page about healthy
elderly nutrition snacks
and recipes to help, with safe, nutritious fresh foods included.
As always, consult with a dietitian or other senior health care professional if you have questions or concerns. Also read our related article about
elderly nutrition problems.
In addition, as we age many elderly issues can cause
changes in eating patterns, causing elderly dietary problems
and even malnutrition, a major cause of senior hospital visits. Read our article about how to identify and help with these issues.
Raw food information is based upon a report by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
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