Prepared by Elizabeth Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. Revised by Pam Schmutz, HGIC Food Safety Information Specialist, Clemson University. (New 04/99. Revised 06/11.)
An old adage states, "With age, comes wisdom." Hopefully that wisdom includes lots of good food safety information. Why? As we mature, our bodies change. Seniors become more vulnerable to illness and, once ill, it can take them longer to recover.
Knowledge of safe food handling is needed to help seniors stay healthy. It’s important to understand the effect of pathogens and other microorganisms on elderly bodies. The best preventative is understanding the safeguards necessary to remain free from foodborne illness. Some of the changes seniors undergo lessen the body’s ability to combat bacteria. For example, there is a decrease in stomach acid secretion, which is a natural defense against ingested bacteria. Over time, the immune system may become less adept in ridding the body of bacteria.
The sense of taste or smell, sometimes affected by medication or illness, may not always sound an alert when meat is spoiled or milk is sour. By knowing how the body changes and using safe food handling techniques, seniors can easily protect themselves and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Some seniors are homebound and must rely on delivered food. Others are new widowers with little cooking experience. Whether seniors are part of these groups or experienced cooks, adhering to the following up-to-date food safety guidelines is just plain good wisdom.
These temperatures ensure that foodborne bacteria have been destroyed. For reasons of personal taste or texture preferences, consumers may choose to cook meat and poultry to higher temperatures.
|145 °F||Fish steaks or fillets. All cuts of beef, lamb, pork and veal. For both safety and quality, allow meat to rest for 4 minutes before carving or eating.|
|155 °F||Ground, mechanically tenderized or injected meats. Ground fish. Egg dishes.|
|165 °F||Poultry and wild game. Stuffing and casseroles.|
Eating Within Two Hours? Pick up or receive the food HOT ... and enjoy eating within two hours.
Not Eating Within Two Hours? Keeping food warm is not enough. Harmful bacteria can multiply between 40 and 140 °F. Set oven temperature high enough to keep the hot food at 140 °F or above. Check internal temperature of food with a meat thermometer. Covering with foil will help keep the food moist.
Eating Much Later? It is not a good idea to try and keep the food hot longer than two hours. Food will taste better and be safely stored if you:
Reheating? Reheat thoroughly to temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming. In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate it so it heats evenly. Allow stand time for more even heating. Consult your microwave owner’s manual for recommended cooking time, power level and stand time. Inadequate heating can contribute to illness.
Keep Cold Food Cold: Eat or refrigerate the food immediately. Cold food should be held at 40 °F or colder.
The Two-Hour Rule: Perishable food should not be at room temperature longer than two hours. Discard food which has been left at room temperature longer than two hours. For room temperatures over 90 °F, discard food after one hour.
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