13 ways to keep food safe for seniors

Alan Wu

March 28, 2012

Food safety is always important, but it's even more so for senior citizens!Safety in the kitchen is important to all of us, but perhaps even more so for senior citizens. Elderly individuals are more susceptible to bacteria and foodborne illnesses because of their weakened immune systems, so it's crucial to ensure that you and your loved ones are taking the right precautions during food preparation and when planning meals. Here are 13 ways you can make sure the food your loved ones are eating is safe.

Foods to avoid or approach with caution
Like everyone else, seniors need a healthy, diverse diet to keep them satisfied and give them energy. This meal plan should include a variety of different ingredients, but raw foods should be used with caution, as they tend to have more risk of germs.
1. Raw fish, like those varieties found in sushi.
2. Raw shellfish, like oysters, mussels, clams and scallops.
3. Hot dogs and lunch meats that aren't heated to a safe temperature.
4. Raw or unpasteurized milk, fruit or vegetable juice. Most of these should have warning labels.
5. Raw or lightly cooked eggs or products containing eggs, like cookie dough, salad dressings, cake batter and egg nog.
6. Raw meat or poultry products.
7. Soft cheeses like brie, feta and blue cheese.

Safe food handling
Whether it's you or your loved one in the kitchen, these tips should be followed when preparing food.
8. Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling food. If you or your loved one goes to the bathroom, touches a nonfood surface or coughs or sneezes during food preparation, another washing is also necessary.
9. Store vegetables, meats and leftovers in proper, air-tight containers. Leftovers should be stored immediately to keep them fresh and prevent bacteria from growing.
10. Use a food thermometer to ensure that meals are cooked thoroughly.
11. Frequently clean and sanitize all kitchen surfaces. This includes countertops, cutting boards, utensils, sinks and tables. Use clean towels and dish rags or disposable paper towels.
12. Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods to prevent cross contamination. This means using separate, clean cutting boards, plates and utensils.
13. Thaw frozen foods safely in the refrigerator or microwave – never on the counter.

It might also be a good idea to invest in a medical alarm system from Bay Alarm. At the push of a button, your loved one will be able to use the medical alert device to contact emergency staff who can help in the event of food poisoning or disease.