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As we age, we become more vulnerable to food-borne illness. Seniors have less stomach acid, making it more difficult to rid the digestive tract of harmful bacteria. As we get older, our digestive systems slow, giving bacteria more time to cause harm. Seniors also experience diminished sense of smell and taste, which can make it more difficult to notice when food has spoiled
Safe food storage practices can be one of the best methods to prevent food-borne illness. Here are some ways to store your food safely:
- Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Use an appliance thermometer.
- Never keep refrigerated leftovers more than three or four days even if they still look and smell fine.
- Refrigerate promptly. Never allow meat, poultry, fish, seafood and eggs or fresh vegetables or fruit to sit at room temperature for more than two hours before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Reduce this time to one hour when the room temperature is 90 degrees or above.
- Keep in mind that bacteria grow quickly in the danger zone between 40 and 140 degrees. So, hot food left out for serving should be maintained at an internal temperature of 140 degrees or above. Likewise, cold foods should be kept below 40 degrees to prevent bacteria growth.
- Follow sell-by and use-by dates on food packaging. Do not buy an item after the sell-by date, and throw out food when the use-by date passes.
- Do not take restaurant leftovers home unless you can refrigerate them within two hours of being served (one hour if air temperature is 90 degrees or above) or if you can keep them in a cooler with ice or freezer gel packs until you arrive home.