It’s been making headlines across the country this week: the norovirus, first spotted in Australia, is now sweeping the U.S. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), contaminated food is one of the primary culprits in spreading the virus.
Did you know that 76 million people get sick from food borne illnesses in the United States every year? As we age, our bodies change – including our immune systems — making older people more susceptible to food borne illness and food poisoning.
The good news is there are many things seniors — and people of any age — can do to prevent the spread of illnesses such as norovirus and food poisoning:
• Practice good hygiene, especially before handling food. Washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water is one of the best ways to ward off viral germs. Hand sanitizers, while not quite as effective as actual hand-washing, are helpful and can be easily stored in your car or purse.
• Thoroughly rinse and dry fresh produce before consuming.
• If you are ill, don’t prepare food for others.
• Don’t consume any raw or undercooked shellfish.
And here are some food safety tips to keep in mind when dining out in restaurants:
• Ask questions about the way the food is prepared.
• Ask whether or not food contains uncooked ingredients, such as eggs, poultry or fish.
• Ask the server or chef if the food has been cooked to a safe minimum temperature.
• Avoid buffets, which may contain undercooked foods or have foods that have been at room temperature too long.
• Observe your food when it is served; if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t!
• If you get a “doggy bag”, refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours after purchase.