Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

February 25, 2014 12:08 ET

Information Update: Food Safety for Older Adults

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 25, 2014) -


As we age, our immune system weakens and it becomes harder to ward off harmful bacteria. Older adults, specifically those over 60 years of age, are more at risk of foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning) for this reason. If you are preparing food, or a caregiver is doing it for you, it's important to follow safe food handling and cooking practices.

Up to four million (or 1 in 8) Canadians get sick every year from foodborne illness. Many cases of food poisoning go unreported because the symptoms are similar to the stomach flu. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. If you are an older adult and you are having symptoms, it's important that you not ignore them and seek medical advice, as food poisoning can be particularly dangerous.

What you should do

Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill - The best way to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness is to follow these four basic food safety steps. If you would like to read more about these four food safety steps, please visit the websites listed at the bottom of this page.

Use a digital food thermometer and always refer to these safe internal cooking temperatures when you are preparing food.

Pay attention to the foods that you eat - Some foods are at higher risk for foodborne bacteria contamination than others. Here are some good tips for older adults to follow:

  • Make sure to cook hot dogs and deli meats until they are steaming hot before eating them.

  • Don't eat raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or seafood.

  • Avoid refrigerated smoked fish or seafood.

  • Avoid unpasteurized juice, cider and milk.

  • Avoid all soft cheeses and semi-soft cheeses made from raw or unpasteurized milk.

  • Avoid refrigerated pâtés and meat spreads.

  • Avoid uncooked foods made from raw or unpasteurized eggs.

For more information:

If you would like to read more about food safety, please visit these websites:

- Government of Canada's Food Safety for Adults 60+

- Government of Canada's Food Safety website

- Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education's Be Food Safe

- Government of Canada's Food Poisoning website

- Public Health Agency of Canada's report: Estimates of Food Borne Illness in Canada (2013)

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Contact Information

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