According to Foodsafety.gov, almost 20% of the U.S. population contracts a foodborne illness every year. Senior adults age 65 or older have a higher risk of hospitalization or developing severe symptoms. Chronic health conditions and slower digestion play a part in why a senior is more susceptible to foodborne illness.
Several things need to happen to keep your parents safe. Cooking foods to the right temperature, washing fruits and vegetables before eating them, and watching for food recalls are three essential steps. Proper storage is also important.
Make Sure the Temperature Is Right
The temperature in your parents’ freezer should be 0º Fahrenheit. If you’re not sure it’s keeping foods cold enough, purchase a thermometer to confirm it is cold enough and make adjustments if it’s not.
If your parents lose power for several hours, check the freezer thermometer’s temperature when the power is restored. If it’s still below 40º F, it’s okay to keep it. If the temperature is higher than that, compost the foods and recycle any containers you can recycle.
Wrap and Freeze Foods Immediately
When your parents return from the grocery store, meats and other frozen foods need to go into the freezer immediately. If they’re not wrapped in freezer-proof packaging, do that first. Aluminum foil is one option. A freezer bag is also practical. If you use a freezer bag, push out as much air as possible before sealing it.
Know That Freezing Only Stops the Growth of Bacteria
Freezing foods doesn’t kill bacteria. It just stops it from growing. You need to be careful when thawing and preparing the frozen items. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave if there’s not enough time.
When you’ve thawed something, smell it. If it smells rancid, compost it. It’s better to be safe than to risk your mom and dad’s health and cook it anyway.
Food Preparation Help From Senior Care
If your parents struggle to bring in groceries and get them into the freezer, they need someone to help. You might want to help out, but you may need to arrange senior care services.
A senior care aide is happy to take your parents grocery shopping. The caregiver will load bags into the trunk and carry them into the home. With senior care, your parents can ask the caregivers to put foods in the proper place to prevent the risk of food poisoning. Call to learn more.