Safe Food Storage For Seniors
Seniors are considered to be are a high risk of getting food poisoning. As you age, your immune system can fail to protect your body against infectious organisms. In most cases of poisoning, food is contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella or E. Coli or viruses such as the norovirus. If you are over 65, it is therefore important to store food safely, to bring your chances of food poisoning down considerably. Safe Food Storage For Seniors
Why are seniors at a higher risk of stomach upset?
As you age, your immune system is naturally weakened and organs can become sluggish in their functioning. The stomach and intestines can hold food for longer periods of time, and toxins can take longer to leave the body. As stated by FoodSafety.gov, many seniors are also on medication, which can weaken the immune system further, thus making it easier to fall prey to bacterial infections.
Setting the fridge and freezer at the right temperature
Seniors with sight or mobility problems should obtain help to ensure that food is stored outside the ‘danger zone’. You should therefore set your fridge to 40ºF and your freezer to 0ºF. Most modern fridges come with inbuilt thermometers. They allow you to set the temperatures you wish and do not require period resetting. When you thaw food from the freezer, pop it straight into the fridge and allow it to thaw overnight. If you have mobility issues, opt for kitchen furniture that has easily accessible buttons.
Being strict with storage directions
As you age, it can be more difficult to remember when you bought or opened items. It is therefore important to label jars you have opened, so you know how long they are safe to consume. According to Purdue University, most canned foods can be used between two to seven days after opening, but each will have its own instructions on the label that should be followed. For instance, canned tuna should be consumed around three to four days after a can is opened. Tomato sauce in a jar will last for a similar number of days. Remove foods from cans to prevent metal leakage into food. Transfer food to a quality hermetic storage system that is easy for you to clean.
Seniors should also make it a point to label the date that leftovers were stored in the fridge. According to the USDA, leftovers can remain in the fridge for a maximum of four days. For optimal safety, refrigerate them quickly; don’t allow them to sit for over two hours at room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90ºF. The same velocity applies to uncooked foods like salads or sandwiches. Bacteria can multiply on these foods in the same way it can on cooked foods. If you eat slowly or you like snacking on foods at night, rather than leave a plate full of food bedside, a small refrigerator will provide easy access to your favorite foods when you are resting.
Identifying high-risk foods
Because the liver and kidneys of seniors may not get rid of toxins optimally, it is vital to take care with high-risk foods, which can be more prone to grow bacteria. These include raw meat, dairy foods, egg products, small goods such as ham, seafood, rice and pasta, salads and fruit salads, and ready-made foods that contain any of the above ingredients. It is best to cook these foods thoroughly to be on the safe side. Purchasing no more than you actually need will also help to reduce leftovers.
How to store food in the freezer
Try to keep food in shallow dishes or store in small portions so that it freezes quickly. Use vapor-proof storage systems to avoid freezer burn. If you store foods quickly in quality containers, they should retain their original quality and not have ice or frost on them when you remove them from the freezer. For liquids, opt for rigid glass containers. Dry products can be packed in freezer bags or specific wrapping for frozen foods. Remember to label foods so you don’t thaw foods out of date.
We have provided a few tips for safe storage but the best way to ensure a specific food is being stored properly is to check package instructions and conduct further research if necessary. When in doubt, throw foods away. Try to buy smaller amounts of food to avoid wastage and avoid storing foods that are at a high risk of bacterial infestation.
By Jackie Edwards
Now working as a writer, Jackie started her career in the health care sector, but after becoming a mom refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she’s not writing, she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities and also has a menagerie of pets to look after.
Safe Food Storage For Seniors
Safe Food Storage For Seniors Safe Food Storage For Seniors Safe Food Storage For Seniors Safe Food Storage For Seniors Safe Food Storage For Seniors Safe Food Storage For SeniorsSafe Food Storage For Seniors
About the Author
As Senior.com Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well. Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor. Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver. Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor. She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.View All Articles