Food Safety for Older Adults

Food Safety for Older Adults

Baby Boomers and Food Safety
Adults 65 and older are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death from foodborne illness.  For example, older adults residing in nursing homes are ten times more likely to die from bacterial gastroenteritis than the general population.   As data shows, food safety is particularly important for adults 65 and older.
This increased risk of foodborne illness is because our organs and body systems go through changes as we age. These changes include:
  • The gastrointestinal tract holds on to food for a longer period of time, allowing bacteria to grow.
  • The liver and kidneys may not properly rid our bodies of foreign bacteria and toxins.
  • The stomach may not produce enough acid.  The acidity helps to reduce the number of bacteria in our intestinal tract.  Without proper amounts of acid, there is an increased risk of bacterial growth.
  • Underlying chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, may also increase a person’s risk of foodborne illness.

What You Can Do

Learn about safety tips for those at increased risk of foodborne illness. Older adults should always follow the four steps:
Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often
Separate: Separate raw meat and poultry from ready-to-eat foods
Cook: Cook food to the right temperatures
Chill: Chill raw meat and poultry as well as cooked leftovers promptly (within 2 hours)
If you or someone you care for receives prepared meals, visit our home delivered meals page  for information on how to keep these safe.

More Information

Food Safety for Older Adults Brochure (FDA)
A need-to-know guide for those 65 years of age and older.
Seniors Need Wisdom on Food Safety (USDA)
Seniors become more at-risk for foodborne illness and, once ill, it can take them longer to recover.

Don’t Wait, Communicate!

According to FEMA National Personal Preparedness Survey, 53% of Americans receive preparedness information by talking with neighbors, friends, or, family. Are you one of them? Start talking to those around you about emergency preparedness today. Meet your neighbors, and talk about who will need and how you can provide aid during an emergency. Don’t wait for an event to occur to introduce yourself.

When a disaster strikes, people are forced to communicate due to necessity. To build a stronger, more connected community, start reaching out and making those connections now. Start small. Meet your neighbors. Get involved in your community. Build that connection. You never know when you might need a helping hand or when you may find yourself in the role of a first responder.
Visit Be Ready