Food safety for seniors
Seniors have a lifetime of experience shopping. Preparing and eating food. But a lot has changed your lifetime- from the way food is produced and distributed, to the way it is prepared and eaten.
And what is also changing is the ability to fight-off dangerous bacteria that may invade your body through the food you eat.
The good news is that well known saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” remains true. Preventing the growth of dangerous microorganisms in food is the key to reducing the millions of illness and thousands of deaths each year.
Some people are more likely to get sick from harmful bacteria that can be found in food. And once they are sick, they face the risk of more serious health problems, even death.
A variety of people may face these special risks- pregnant women and young children, people with chronic illness and weakened immune systems and older people, including people over 65.
Why seniors are more susceptible to foodborne illness?
Everyone’s health is different, including his or her ability to fight off diseases. But immune systems weaken as we age. In addition, stomach acid also decreases as we get older - and stomach acids plays an important role in reducing the number of bacteria in our intestinal tracts- and the risk of illness.
Also, underlying illness such as diabetes, some cancer treatments, and kidney disease may increase a person’s risk of foodborne illness.
Recognizing food borne illness:
It can be difficult for people to recognize when harmful bacteria in food have made them sick. For instance, it’s hard to tell if food is unsafe, because you can’t see, smell or taste the bacteria it may contain.
Sometimes people think their foodborne illness was caused by their last meal. In fact, there is a wide range of time between eating food with harmful bacteria and the onset of illness. Usually foodborne bacteria take 1 to 3 days to cause illness. But you could become sick anytime from 20 minutes to 6 weeks after eating some foods with dangerous bacteria. It depends on a variety of factors, including the type of bacteria in the food.
Sometimes foodborne illness is confused with other types of illness. If you get foodborne illness, you might be sick to your stomach, vomit or have diarrhea. Or, symptoms could be flu like with a fever and headache, and body aches. The best thing to do is check with your doctor.
Foodborne illness can be dangerous, but is often easy to prevent. By following the basic rules of food safety, you can help prevent foodborne illness for yourself and others.
Food safety at home
Just follow four basic rules – Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill – and you will fight bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
Clean : Wash hands and surfaces often
Bacteria can be present throughout the kitchen, including on cutting boards, utensils, sponges, and counter tops.