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Eating Safely

Eating Safely

Posted By || 26-Apr-2016

By eating safely, you are ensuring the foods you eat have been properly handled, prepared, and stored. Eating safely can also include knowing when to avoid eating certain foods, whether that means reading expiration dates or throwing out things that shouldn’t be saved as leftovers. Some older adults who are used to cooking for themselves over the years may not realize that they now face new challenges as they age. In other cases, elderly individuals may find themselves alone and now responsible for their own meals, making cooking equally challenging. Anyone who is handling or cooking their own food should be informed on how to ensure this food is kept safe and illnesses are avoided.

How can you make sure you or your loved one is eating safely? LifeCare has provided some practical tips and information you can follow below.

The Danger of Foodborne Illness

According to statistics, around 48 million people across the U.S. suffer from foodborne illness every year, thousands more are hospitalized, and an average of 3,000 die. The bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can contaminate our food can be dangerous, especially as we age. Why? As we age, our bodies no longer produce as much stomach acid, which means it is harder for us to eliminate that harmful bacteria that can be hiding within our own food. Our sense of taste and smell can also change as we get older, making it more challenging to recognize when food has spoiled.

Four Easy Steps to Safe Eating

While most don’t think of eating as a potentially dangerous activity, it could be very harmful if not handled correctly. That is why it is so important that aging individuals have the proper support, assistance, or steps to follow when preparing their meals.

The four steps that should be following when making food:

  1. Clean – Make sure you wash your hands, the surface you are using for prep, and any food or items that should be washed, such as knives and produce. Bacteria can easily spread throughout your kitchen, so clean up before you start and after you’re done.
  2. Separate – Never allow foods to cross-contaminate, especially when cooking raw meat such as chicken or seafood. Keeping separate prep areas and tools, such as cutting boards, is advised.
  3. Cook – Always cook to safe temperatures. Use a food thermometer if you have trouble gauging the correct and safe temperature for certain foods. You can find out more about proper cooking temperatures here.
  4. Chill – Refrigerate any leftovers or ingredient promptly so that they can be consumed or used again. Correct storage of food can ensure a safe meal. Your refrigerator should be at a constant temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer should be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

By following all of these steps, you can help yourself or your elderly loved one eat safely. It is also important to pay attention to product dates—you should make sure you understand the difference between “sell-by,” “best if used by,” and “use-by” labels, as they can all indicate a different timeline for eating a product.

Check back in with LifeCare for more tips on smart eating. We are committed to helping individuals embrace healthy aging.

Categories: General

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