Food Safety Considerations for the Elderly

Food Safety Considerations for the Elderly

Food safety is an important consideration for older people. Seniors are more likely to become sick from bacteria in food than younger people. When they do become ill, it can take an older person longer to recover.

The natural aging process causes a reduction in the amount of digestive acids produced in the stomach. Many older people also have weakened immune systems that leave them more susceptible to bacteria in food.

Poor food handling, storage, and preparation in the home are the most likely causes of contamination and bacteria. There are some simple things that can be done to help reduce the likelihood of an older person becoming seriously ill due to food contamination.


before handling or preparing any food, ensure that hands are washed and surfaces are cleaned properly. Bacteria can spread easily on cutting boards and countertops. It can also be transferred from hands that aren’t properly cleaned after working with one type of food and switching to another.  After food preparation is complete, wash hands again and clean all work surfaces thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination.


store any uncooked food in air-tight containers. Juices from raw meat, chicken or fish have the potential to cross-contaminate other foods, so ensure these are stored separately. Raw eggs can contain salmonella and other harmful bacteria, so check they’re stored properly and not putting other foods at risk.

Old fruit and vegetables can become moldy if they’re left for too long. Blend some fresh fruit and vegetables and freeze them until they’re needed. Alternatively, create a big pot of vegetable soup and store individual meal-sized portions in the freezer. Freezing fresh produce can create an easy way to keep food from spoiling, while still giving you easy access to nutritious food when it’s required.


cooking food properly and at the right temperatures is crucial to reducing bacteria-related illness. It’s important to cook food at a sufficiently high temperature to kill any harmful bacteria.


store any leftover cooked food promptly in the fridge. Bacteria can grow quickly in warm environments. Leaving food out on the counter to cool down before storing it can create a breeding ground for bacteria.

The same principle holds true for fresh food. Refrigerate food promptly, as even keeping it at room temperature can encourage bacteria growth. Cold temperatures slow growth.

The key to avoiding food-borne bacteria is to be vigilant about food preparation, handling, and storage. Keep these simple food safety tips in mind and reduce the risk of becoming ill.

Safety Education Alliance