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To Your Health! Food Safety for Seniors This presentation will cover… Why some people face special risks Microorganisms of concern How to minimize risk of foodborne illness Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the U.S. each Year: 76 million people become ill 5,000 people die

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To Your Health!

Food Safety for Seniors


This presentation will cover…

  • Why some people face special risks
  • Microorganisms of concern
  • How to minimize risk of foodborne illness
estimates of foodborne illness in the u s each year
Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the U.S. each Year:

76 million peoplebecome ill

5,000 people die


Some People Face Special Risks

  • A variety of people may face these special risks:
    • Pregnant women
    • Very young children
    • People with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems
    • Older adults

Why Older Adults?

  • Immune systems weaken with age
  • Stomach acid decreases as you get older
  • Diseases/illnesses may further weaken the body

Recognizing Foodborne Illness

  • Can’t see, smell or taste bacteria in food
  • Often takes 1 to 3 days to cause illness, but can take up to 6 weeks

Recognizing Foodborne Illness

  • If you become ill after eating out, call your local health department so they can investigate.
  • By following the basic rules of food safety, you can help prevent foodborne illness for yourself and others.

3 Pathogens of Special Importance to Older Adults

  • Escherichia coli O157:H7
  • Salmonella
  • Listeria monocytogenes
e coli
E. coli
  • Lives in intestines of healthy cattle and other ruminant animals.
  • Typical food sources:
    • Undercooked ground meats,
    • Contaminated produce served raw (lettuce, spinach, sprouts),
    • Unpasteurized milk
  • Salmonella outbreaks have been associated with:
    • Raw and undercooked eggs
    • Undercooked poultry and meat
    • Raw milk
    • Produce and unpasteurized juice
  • Why eggs?
    • Salmonella can grow both inside the egg and on the outside of shells
  • Bacteria widespread in nature, soil, water
  • Survives and grows at refrigerator temperatures!
  • Risky Foods: Refrigerated Ready-to-Eat foods (i.e. deli salads, lunch meats, hot dogs, soft cheeses made with raw milk)
Almost all cases: elderly, pregnant women and immune-compromised persons

Mild gastrointestinal symptoms: 8-48 hrs

Invasive illness: 2-6 weeks following exposure

Fever, muscle aches, headache, loss of balance, bacteremia, meningitis, encephalitis

20-30% death rate


Food Safety at Home

  • Follow four basic rules:
    • Clean
    • Separate
    • Cook
    • Chill
  • Avoid high risk foods

Food Safety at Home


  • Wash your hands frequently!
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with warm soapy water after preparing each food and before going to next one.
  • For added protection, spray counter tops and cutting boards with kitchen sanitizer (1 tsp bleach to 1 quart water)

Clean Fresh Produce

  • Rinse raw produce in clean running water.
  • Scrub rinds of melons under running water before cutting.
change dish cloths towels often
Change Dish Cloths/Towels Often

Wet or damp dishcloths and sponges are ideal places for bacterial growth.

  • Use paper towels or disposable cloths to clean up kitchen surfaces after working with raw meat, fish or poultry.
  • Wash dish cloths regularly.
  • Avoid sponges, if possible or sanitize often.

Food Safety at Home


  • Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and your refrigerator.
  • If possible, use different cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-each foods.
  • Place cooked food on a clean plate.

Food Safety at Home


  • Use a clean food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, casseroles and other foods are properly cooked all the way through.
  • Cook roasts and steaks to at least 145° F and poultry to at least 165° F.

Food Safety at Home


  • Cook ground beef to at least 160°F.
  • Cook eggs until yolk and white are firm.
  • Fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork.

Food Safety at Home


  • When cooking in a microwave oven, stir or rotate to make sure there are no cold spots where bacteria can survive.
  • Reheat leftovers to 165° F. Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil.

Food Safety at Home


  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within 2 hours.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Use a thermometer to make sure refrigerator is 35-40°F.

Food Safety at Home


  • Never thaw foods at room temperature.
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t pack the refrigerator too full. Cold air must circulate to keep food safe.

Special Foods/Special Advice

Foods seniors advised NOT to eat:

  • Soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese, if made with unpasteurized milk
  • Raw or unpasteurized milk
  • Why? Common source of Listeria

Special Foods/Special Advice

Foods seniors advised NOT to eat:

  • Raw fin fish and shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops. (Vibrio & other pathogens)
  • Raw or lightly cooked egg or egg products, including salad dressings, cookie or cake batter, sauces, and beveragessuch as egg nog.(Salmonella)

Special Foods/Special Advice

Foods seniors advised NOT to eat:

  • Raw meat or poultry
  • Raw sprouts
  • Unpasteurized or untreated fruit or vegetable juice
  • Why? E. coli and Salmonella

Special Foods/Special Advice

Foods seniors advised NOT to eat:

  • Refrigerated pates, meat spreads or cold smoked fish, unless reheated.
  • Hot dogs and luncheon meats, unless reheated.
  • Why? Potential source of Listeria

Special Foods/Special Advice

Why Reheat Ready-to-eat (RTE) Meat, Poultry and Fish Products?

  • Easily contaminated with Listeria post processing in packing plant, deli or home.
  • Listeria, if present, grows during refrigerated storage.
  • Re-heating to steaming hot (165°F) destroys any Listeria that may be present.

Other Tips for Enhancing Safety of RTE Meat and Poultry Products

  • Select products made with additives that slow the growth of Listeria. Look for sodium or potassium lactate,andsodium orpotassium diacetatein the ingredient list.
  • Observe “Use-by” dates for unopened packages.
  • Once opened, use or freeze hot dogs within 1 week; deli and luncheon meats within3 to 4 days.

When in doubt...


For more information…

  • The FDA Hotline - 1-888-SAFEFOOD (723-3366)
  • The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline – 1-800-535-4555
  • Colorado SafeFood website:


Funding for this project provided in part through USDA’s National Integrated Food Safety Initiative, Grant# 2004-51110-02160.

Slides adapted from “To Your Health,” developed by U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Baltimore District-Public Affairs Staff

food safety bingo
Food Safety Bingo
  • Which population group is at increased risk for infection with Listeria?

(Older adults)

  • What type of food should be stored above raw foods?


  • What is the first thing that you should do to a cutting board after using it for raw meats?


  • What should you do to a cutting board after it is washed in soapy water and rinsed thoroughly?


food safety bingo34
Food Safety Bingo
  • Name a food that has been associated with outbreaks of listeriosis:

(Soft raw milk cheese)

  • After washing a surface, always do this.


  • To what temperature should hamburger be cooked?


  • Length of time it’s safe to keep opened packages of deli meats in the refrigerator?

(3-5 days)

  • Listeria is easily destroyed by what factor?


food safety bingo35
Food Safety Bingo
  • What temperature should your freezer be?


  • Your refrigerator should be no warmer than ___˚F.


  • How long can perishable foods be safely held on the countertop?

(2 hours, total)

  • What type of a container should you use to cool hot foods?


  • What should you use to check the temperature of your refrigerator?

(refrigerator thermometer)

food safety bingo36
Food Safety Bingo
  • Where should you put a thermometer in your refrigerator?

(In the front)

  • Where should you store raw meat when you are marinating it?

(Inside refrigerator)

  • On which shelf of the refrigerator should you store raw meats?


  • Which bacteria can grow in the refrigerator?


  • What should you do when ice builds up inside your freezer?


food safety bingo37
Food Safety Bingo
  • When the weather is hot, where are groceries safest from heat during the transport home?

(Inside the car-not the trunk)

  • What should you use to wash your hands?


  • If the outside temperature is 90˚F or above, how long can food sit at room temperature?

(1 hour)

  • What is the minimal amount of time that you should wash your hands?

(20 seconds)

  • Finish the sentence “Food Safety ___________.”

(begins at home)