For Seniors, Eat with Caution
Holidays mean lots of new seasonal foods with celebrations. To reduce risks of illness from bacteria in food, seniors (and others who face special risks of illness) are advised not to eat:
- Raw fin fish and shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops.
- Hot dogs and luncheon meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
- Raw or unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses (such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese) unless they are labeled "made with pasteurized milk".
- Refrigerated patés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable patés and meat spreads may be eaten.
- Refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel, is often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky." These products are found in the refrigerated section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten.
- Raw or lightly cooked egg or egg products containing raw eggs such as salad dressings, cookie or cake batter, sauces, and beverages such as egg nog. (Foods made from commercially pasteurized eggs are safe to eat.)
- Raw meat or poultry.
- Raw sprouts (alfalfa, clover, and radish)
- Unpasteurized or untreated fruit or vegetable juice (These juices will carry a warning label.)
4 Steps to Food Safety
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages consumers to pay special attention to holiday food handling and preparation. Most at risk from food borne illnesses are the elderly, people with weakened immune systems from cancer and other causes, pregnant women, and children. To reduce the risk, the FDA advises the following steps:
Keep Clean: Frequently wash hands and all surfaces touching food. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen onto cutting boards, knives, counter tops, sponges, and brushes.
Separate Foods: Don't cross-contaminate by letting bacteria spread from one food to another. Especially keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from fresh vegetables, such as carrots, and other foods that are ready to eat.
Cook Thoroughly: Food is properly cooked when it is brought to an internal temperature long enough to kill the harmful bacteria which cause food borne illness. Use a food thermometer to measure internal temperature of foods.
Chill Properly: Refrigerate foods promptly to prevent most harmful bacteria from multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 37 degrees Fahrenheit, freezers at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Occasionally check settings with a thermometer.
The Holidays Are Coming! Time to Start Planning for Healthy Holiday Meals / For Seniors, Eat with Caution
Fall 2009 Issue: Volume 4 Number 4 Pages 20 - 21