Food Safety Education Month: Food Hygiene in Care Homes
In care homes and other residential facilities, it's essential that good food hygiene practices are firmly in place. We're often reminded to be extra careful when it comes to spreading germs around the elderly, but why?
The elderly are more vulnerable to food poisoning and other food-related illnesses, as ageing weakens the immune system. Increased comorbid conditions and the decrease in activity of the immune system are a combination that can make people increasingly prone to infections.
The Food Standards Agency offer the following food safety advice in their Safer food better business document:
Anyone who works with food should wash their hands before handling it. In particular, people with care duties should also wash their hands after: • helping residents e.g. use the toilet • emptying bed pans or using medical equipment • touching dirty linen and clothing • handling pets or their feeding bowls For more advice see the ‘Handwashing’ Safe method in the Cleaning section.
Food storage and preparation
• Do not use food past its ‘use by’ date • Make sure fridges are operating below 5°C • Follow the storage instructions on food labels. Use open food within two days unless label instructs otherwise. • Keep ready-to-eat food chilled.
When cleaning up after accidents (e.g. vomiting or diarrhoea) make sure you wash and disinfect the area thoroughly. Make sure suitable clothing is worn, ideally a disposable apron, and hands are washed thoroughly afterwards.
If care staff help during meals, they should wash their hands thoroughly and put on a clean or disposable apron before serving food or feeding residents. Staff should make sure visitors wash their hands thoroughly before helping to feed residents. Visitors should not be in the kitchen.