According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from consuming contaminated food every year.[i] Although anyone can suffer from a foodborne illness, some individuals, including adults aged 65 and older, are more likely to contract them, as their bodies’ ability to fight germs and sickness is not as effective as it once was.[ii]
Fortunately, proper food hygiene and preparation can prevent almost all foodborne illnesses. In recognition of Worldwide Food Service Safety Month in December, the Thick-It® brand offers the following food safety tips for caregivers and healthcare professionals to consider when serving patients.[iii]
Wash your hands and surfaces often. Proper handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent illness.[iv] The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds, making sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Additionally, germs that cause foodborne illnesses can spread in many places in your kitchen, including countertops, cutting boards, and utensils.[v] Clean them with hot, soapy water after each use.
Avoid cross-contamination. To prevent germs from spreading from one food to another, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from other foods.[vi] These should remain separate from all ready-to-eat foods in shopping carts, bags, or in the refrigerator. Make sure to use a separate cutting board when preparing raw foods.
Serve foods and beverages with safe packaging. Resealable packaging can extend a product’s shelf life, retain its nutritional value and freshness, and prevent contamination.[vii] Available in single- and multi-serve resealable bottles, Thick-It® Clear Advantage® Ready-to-Drink Beverages provide a safe way for those with dysphagia to stay hydrated. They can now be purchased in convenient variety packs that contain 24 8 fl oz. bottles of Thickened Water, Thickened Apple Juice, Thickened Cranberry Juice Blend, and Thickened Orange Juice Blend pre-thickened to a mildly thick or moderately thick consistency.
By limiting the handling and access of products, single-serve packaging can also help stop food spoilage and staleness.[viii] Pre-portioned and labeled for mildly thick and moderately thick consistencies, Thick-It® Original Food & Beverage Thickener single-serve packets allow dysphagia patients and their caregivers to safely produce their desired consistency quickly and easily.
Cook food properly. Follow these FoodSafety.gov guidelines for minimum temperatures and rest time for meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods. Use a thermometer to make sure meat has reached a safe internal temperature that is hot enough to kill the germs that cause food poisoning.
Refrigerate perishable items. Bacteria can multiply quickly if left at room temperature or in the heat. Store food in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours after cooking or purchasing. If the temperature outside is more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigerate within one hour. Use this chart to keep your perishables from spoiling or becoming dangerous to consume.
Visit the CDC and the Food & Drug Administration for more food safety information and resources.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have about the use of Thick-It® products. The information contained herein is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment in any manner.