5 Ways to Prevent Food Poisoning in the Elderly

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every six people in the United States get ill with food poisoning. Unfortunately, older adults are more at risk for getting food poisoning than are other segments of the population. Part of the reason is that they tend to have weaker immune systems. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that can be done to prevent seniors from getting a foodborne illness, such as these 5 prevention tips.

#1: Wash Hands

Seniors and caregivers must wash their hands before preparing or handling food. In addition, seniors should always wash their hands before eating. The CDC says there are 5 steps to washing hands properly. They are:

  • Wet hands under clean, running water, then apply soap.
  • Lather hands, including the backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails.
  • Scrub hands for 20 seconds, which is the amount of time needed to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Rinse hands under clean, running water.
  • Dry hands with a clean towel.

#2: Clean Kitchen Surfaces and Utensils

Wash kitchen counters and food preparation surfaces with warm, soapy water. When preparing raw meat, it’s important to wash surfaces before preparing other foods on them, like vegetables or bread. Also, wash all cutting boards and knives before using them to cut something else.

#3: Thaw Carefully

Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. After thawing food, use it promptly. Also, once food has been completely thawed, never refreeze it. On the subject of refrigerating foods, the temperature of the refrigerator should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Also, refrigerate all leftovers within 2 hours of cooking them.

#4: Use a Meat Thermometer

Using a meat thermometer not only helps foods to come out perfectly cooked and delicious, it can also prevent food poisoning. Undercooked meats may contain bacteria that can make older adults ill. Using a meat thermometer ensures that meat is cooked to a safe temperature. Some safe temperatures (in Fahrenheit) are:

  • Roasts and Steaks: 145 degrees.
  • Whole Poultry: 165 degrees.
  • Ground Beef: 160 degrees.
  • Ground Chicken or Turkey: 165 degrees.

#5: Use Elderly Care

Cognitive problems can cause older adults to make poor decisions in the kitchen that can lead to food poisoning. They might eat food that is no longer fresh or fail to wash their hands and surfaces. When an elderly care provider cooks meals for your aging relative, you can be certain the food will be safe. Elderly care providers can keep the kitchen clean so that germs don’t get into food. They can also make sure foods are thoroughly cooked and stored properly.


If you are considering elderly care in Roanoke, VA for an aging loved one, please talk to the caring staff at Acti-Kare of Blue Ridge. Call 540-443-6223. Our office provides senior care and home care services in the following locations including Blue Ridge, Lynchburg, Salem, Roanoke, Smith Mountain Lake, and Bedford in Virginia.