The outside temperature is increasing and the days are getting longer, which sends more and more of us outside to enjoy the nice weather. Seniors especially find a reprieve from the cold and chilly days of winter in the summer, and caregivers are all too happy to bring more activities outside so everyone can enjoy the day.
Hot Weather and Food: A Dangerous Combination
A typical aspect of home healthcare in the summer months involves taking seniors outside to enjoy the weather, boost their mood, and get a much-needed dose of Vitamin D. Whether going for an outing, having a picnic in their backyard, or enjoying a family barbecue, many of these outings involve food that may sit in the hot air as the senior enjoys their time outside.
While the weather is enjoyable for us, the same cannot be said for the food left to sit out. Food poisoning increases exponentially in the hot weather because we are not the only ones to enjoy the increasing heat, bacteria do too. Caregivers play an essential role in ensuring that food safety guidelines are followed.
How Caregivers Can Ensure Food Safety
- Wash Up: Foodborne illnesses can quickly spread if you do not wash your hands and surfaces. So, caregivers and others providing in-home assistance should wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before working with any foods and after using the bathroom, handlings pets, or changing diapers. It’s not just our hands that should be washed; caregivers also need to wash all fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure they are clean before being eaten.
- Avoid Cross-Contamination: Cross-contamination can occur during the preparation, grilling, or serving stage and is a prime cause of foodborne illness. It also occurs much more often when bringing food somewhere else to cook it, especially when traveling with raw meats. Caregivers should securely wrap all raw meats, poultry, and seafood and keep them separate from other foods.
- Keep Foods Cool: One of the biggest reasons food poisoning increases during the summer is that bacteria grow faster in warmer temperatures. Eating food left in warm temperatures for too long can make someone sick. Family caregivers, CNAs and Home Health Aides should keep raw meats chilled until ready to cook. When traveling with any cold, perishable food, they should be kept in a cooler with several inches of ice or icepacks.
- Know When to Throw Away: As for leftovers, if any food has been left out for more than two hours, it should be thrown away. When the outside temperature reaches 90ºF or higher, the time limit in which food can safely sit out is one hour.
Avoiding Food Poisoning in the Summer
The hot months of summer are a great time to go outside and enjoy the weather, whether at a barbeque or on the beach. However, caregivers need to be vigilant in the food they serve the seniors they care for. Following the above tips will help keep a senior’s summer fun and decrease the risk of food poisoning.
Allcare Home Health (919) 301-0236
Behm, B. (2017). Avoid Food Poisoning During Summer Picnics. https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2017/07/avoid-food-poisoning-during-summer-picnics/
Keep Food (Cool for the Summer” to Avoid Foodborne Illness. (2022). https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/keep-food-cool-summer-avoid-foodborne-illness
4 Ways To Prevent Food Poisoning During Your Summer – Genesis Medical Associates, Inc. . (2022). https://www.genesismedical.org/blog/4-ways-to-prevent-food-poisoning-during-your-summer