Food safety knowledge and practices among older adults: Identifying causes and solutions for risky behaviors
Adults aged 60 years and older are more likely than younger adults to experience complications, hospitalization, and death because of food-borne infections. Recognizing this risk, we conducted a nationally representative survey (n = 1,140) to characterize older adults' food safety knowledge, attitudes, and practices as well as the demographic characteristics of older adults with risky food handling practices. The survey was conducted using a Web-enabled panel. We found that although older adults consider themselves to be knowledgeable about food safety, many are not following recommended food safety practices. Areas for improvement include the following: reheating deli meats to steaming hot, not eating store-bought deli salads, cooking eggs properly, monitoring refrigerator temperature using a thermometer, using a food thermometer to check doneness of meat/poultry/egg dishes, and storing leftovers properly. The survey results also suggest that food safety education targeting older adults is needed and that such initiatives should emphasize practices to prevent listeriosis, a potentially fatal illness among older adults. Our findings suggest that, in particular, men, individuals with higher incomes, and college-educated individuals would benefit from food safety education.