Food is one of those essentials of life. It's also essential to make sure that the food you eat is prepared, cooked and stored in such a way that it doesn't make you sick—especially as you get older.
The reason? Adults 65 and older are more vulnerable to food poisoning than younger folk.
A weakened immune system is one reason why. A reduced immune response makes your body less able to fight off germs and illness. Older adults also have less stomach acid to fight bacteria and other germs. Finally, less keen eyesight and a poorer sense of smell may make it harder to tell when food has gone bad.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to avoid food poisoning. Here are a few tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the National Institute on Aging:
• At all stages of food handling—even at the grocery store and in your refrigerator—keep raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs separate from other foods.
• Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and fish.
• Make sure your hands, counter and cutting boards are clean before you start preparing food.
• Don't rinse raw meat or poultry before cooking. You run the risk of splashing disease-causing germs around your sink and countertop.
• Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your fridge always stays below 40 degrees.
• Put food back in the refrigerator within two hours of buying it or cooking it. (If the outside temperature is above 90 degrees, refrigerate within one hour.)
• Use refrigerated leftovers or freeze them within three to four days. If food is older than that or is sprouting mold, throw it out.
• When you're ready to use a packaged food or drink, check the date on the label. If it's expired, throw it out.
Consult with your Watson Clinic Primary Care physician regarding additional methods for protecting yourself against food poisoning. Call 863-680-7190 to schedule an appointment.