Food Safety Guidance for Older Adults

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Aging is associated with loss of the physical barriers and immune efficiency that typically control pathogens' access to and multiplication within the body, thus making infection more likely in elderly persons. Chronic diseases and other health factors, such as malnutrition and immobility, may increase susceptibility to and severity of infections, including foodborne illnesses, in elderly persons, as well as associated morbidity and mortality. Prevention is the best way to avoid foodborne illnesses, but older adults have long-established food preparation and handling practices, some of which may increase the likelihood of illness. Elderly persons rely on physicians as trusted sources of health information. Physicians and other health care professionals can help prevent and control foodborne diseases by educating their patients about the risks of foodborne illness, providing sound advice on safe food-handling and consumption practices, making rapid appropriate diagnoses, and reporting cases promptly to public health authorities.

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