Keywords: food safety, government sponsored meal programmes, congregate sites, food sanitation monitoring, foodborne illness, older adults, public health, elderly population, USA, United States, food contamination, senior citizens, site inspection, dieticians, nutritionists
Improvement of food safety for older adults participating in congregate meal sites
The elderly population in the USA is rapidly growing and is expected to reach 72 million people by 2030, more than double the number in 2000. Older adults are more likely than younger adults to contract foodborne illness and therefore they experience more health complications from food contamination. As the elderly population increases, the number of participants in government–sponsored programmes such as congregate meals will also surge and more elderly people will become dependent on these meals for their daily nutritional needs. The purpose of this study is to evaluate food safety practices and to examine the benefit of additional monitoring of the facilities that provide food to the elderly. The four–year (2009–2012) survey of senior sites indicated a significant increase in the percentage of menus planned by dieticians and nutritionists from 2010 to 2012. Dieticians and nutritionists planned 11.2% of menus (2010) and 60% in 2012 (p < 0.01). Another statistically significant improvement was in the number of cycle menus used; only 4.8% in 2010 and 38% in 2012 (p = 0.02) Additional monitoring and inspection will improve food safety in congregate sites.