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Food poisoning risks for old people: Avoid these foods if you are over 65

Food poisoning risks for old people: Avoid these foods if you are over 65

Last Reviewed : 12/17/2020
Food poisoning risks for old people:   Avoid these foods if you are over 65

As you age your immunity will start to decline. Your body’s ability to fight infections and repair itself after attack grows progressively weak. Among other threats to your health, food poisoning will be one you must watch closely.

Food poisoning - sometimes lumped under foodborne illnesses - is considered relatively common and is normally easy to treat. But, for old people, it can be very dangerous, especially once dehydration sets in. In some cases, it can even be lethal.

It is important to remember that food poisoning does not refer to eating poisoned food. Rather, it is illness resulting from the consumption of otherwise safe-to-eat food that’s been contaminated by bacteria.

Below we discuss several foods that are more likely than others to cause food poisoning. You should consume these foods with caution or avoid them completely if you are over the age of 65:

1. Raw Soft cheese

This is unpasteurized cheese, or simply cheese that’s not been heat treated to remove pathogenic bacteria that can make you sick. Examples include mold-ripened soft cheese (including brie and camembert) and soft blue cheese (Danish blue, gorgonzola, and Roquefort).

Raw, unpasteurized cheeses are less acidic and contain more moisture, which is the ideal environment for the growth of bacteria. If you have to eat or use this cheese in your sandwiches and prepared dishes, be sure to cook it first. During the cooking process, the bacteria will die off due to the high cooking temperature.

2. Pate

Pate - a French dish made from chicken liver - can harbor dreadful bacteria like listeria, which can potentially cause food poisoning. Being a poultry-based dish that’s not normally eaten hot, pate is susceptible to bacterial contamination. Treat it as you would any cold meat - storing it in a working refrigerator where it cannot be easily contaminated with bacteria.

3. Raw eggs

Raw eggs and products that contain raw eggs, such as mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce may be easily contaminated with salmonella. Salmonella can cause salmonellosis and typhoid fever. Both the shell and the egg within can be contaminated with salmonella. This requires you to be careful where you get your eggs.

Ensure you cook your eggs thoroughly until the yolk and egg white are solid in texture. It is only then that your eggs will be thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.

4. Cold meats

Cold meats like salami, prosciutto, ham, chorizo, and pepperoni can harbor the Toxoplasma parasite. The parasite causes toxoplasmosis, a form of food poisoning that comes with flu-like symptoms. It is commonly contracted by eating infected undercooked meats.

Cold meats must be frozen before consumption. Exposure to the extremely cold conditions of a freezer kills the parasite. It is also a healthy practice to thoroughly boil or cook all meat in general before eating.

5. Uncooked meat and poultry

Sausages, burgers, and many barbeque foods may harbor salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli, which are bacteria that cause food poisoning. These foods must be cooked until there is no blood showing in the meat. They are only safe to consume after they have been well-cooked. A pink color in the meat is a sign the meat is undercooked and may not be safe to eat.

6. Raw shellfish

While not all raw meats will contain bacteria to be unsafe to eat raw or cooked rare, there are some that you must not consume raw. Examples include fresh seafood like mussels, lobsters, crabs, and prawns. These seafood favorites frequently contain bacteria and viruses. Always boil them if you have to eat them.

Additionally, raw fish must be avoided as it also easily contaminated. Eat your fish well cooked. Remember, too, to keep your fresh fish frozen during storage to ensure that it does not get contaminated with bacteria.

7. Unpasteurized milk

Fresh milk is one of the most unsafe foods to consume unpasteurized for old people. To put the risk into perspective, it has been established that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause food poisoning than pasteurized milk. Always make sure you boil your fresh milk or simply buy it pre-pasteurized.

8. Sprouts

Sprouts on their own don’t harbor conditions favored by bacteria. It is the environment they are grown that’s the problem. Sprouts of any kind, whether bean, alfalfa, or clover, require humid conditions to grow well. Bacteria also thrive in the same conditions.

So sprouts may already be contaminated with bacteria before they have even left the farm. If you must eat them, make sure you steam them at high heat to kill all the bacteria.

Watch what you eat and stay safe in your golden years

Your golden years are to be enjoyed with friends and family, and traveling to places of interest. As you age though, so does your immune system, which grows weaker and weaker. But with precautions, such as avoiding the foods we have discussed above, food poisoning will be one less health risk you have to worry about.

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