How to Keep Food Safe when Cooking for Residents in Aged Care

The UN International Day of Older Persons is on October 1 and is followed by Food Safety Week in November.  In recognition of this Cater Care, in conjunction with the Food Safety Information Council, has developed a Food Safety Advice brochure. The brochure will provide advice for bringing home cooked foods to family or friends in aged care facilities.

Rachelle Williams, Food Safety Information Council Chair, said, “The elderly are more susceptible to food contamination. If they suffer food poisoning, it can have severe consequences.

“Older people should be able to safely enjoy food prepared by family and friends. A family favourite, or culturally specific dish, one that may not be readily available in their aged care facility, are always a welcome treat.

“To keep the residents safe we must use extra care when preparing and transporting this food. The Food Safety advice in our brochure is useful not only for preparing meals for aged care residents but for any elderly friend, neighbour or relative.

“Of course, you must always check with the aged care facility about taking food in as their rules will vary. Remember that you will be responsible for the safety of the food. Always let the staff know if you have bought food or left some in the resident’s room.

These simple food safety tips can be used as a guide:

  1. Use extra care with hygiene when preparing food – wash your hands thoroughly and keep equipment clean
  2. Divide food into small portions, write the date on each package and refrigerate or freeze immediately
  3. Transport any chilled or frozen food in a cooler with ice packs
  4. Reheat the dishes at the aged care facility to 75°C to kill any bacteria
  5. Never provide any processed or packaged food after its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date.
  6. Don’t leave perishable food behind, or take more than needed, unless you are sure the food can be safely refrigerated.

Keep in mind that some foods are considered too risky for elderly people to eat. Foods containing raw egg such as eggnog, home-made egg mayonnaise, aioli, hollandaise sauce or uncooked desserts like tiramisu shouldn’t be provided from home to aged care residents.

Nor should they eat high-risk foods that could be contaminated with Listeria, a potentially fatal food poisoning bacteria.

These include cold sliced meats, cold cooked chicken; paté, liverwurst or meat spreads; pre-prepared fruit and vegetable salads from salad bars; soft cheeses like brie or camembert; and cheeses made from raw/unpasteurised milk.

With a little careful planning, your loved ones can enjoy your home cooked fare safely, and without worry.


Click here to download a copy of the brochure

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