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food borne illness in aged care

Food Borne Illness in Aged Care

Aged care residents are a vulnerable group of the population at higher risk of food borne illness. Consequently, it is vital that all aged care facilities are following standard 3.3.1 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

This month we explore the topic of food borne illness in more detail.

By considering the following points you can begin to assess your facility’s ability to meet this standard.

  • When was your facility’s food safety program reviewed last? Food safety programs should be reviewed annually. A copy of your food safety program is kept onsite.
  • Your facility takes particular care of the following potentially hazardous foods (raw & cooked meats; dairy products such as custard; seafood; processed fruits & vegetables such as salads; cooked rice & pasta; foods containing eggs, beans or other protein rich foods such as quiche; foods that contain any of the above such as sandwiches) keeping them at temperatures less likely to promote growth of microorganisms (≤5°C or ≥60°C)
  • The menu at your facility considers the risk of food bourne illness and excludes high risk food items such as pate, pre-packaged salads, sliced ready to eat cold meats such as ham. Alternatively you may have in place additional control measures to minimise the risk (for example, storage limits).
  • If your facility alters the texture of foods to meet the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) all equipment used is adequately cleaned and sanitised
  • All necessary staff at your facility have received training in food safety and hygiene and has been documented
  • There is a policy at your facility managing food brought in by family/friends
  • Eggs are a good source of protein and other nutrients such as choline but special care should be taken to minimise the risk of food borne illness. Your facility should consider the following:
  • 1) avoid using cracked or dirty eggs;
  • 2) when cooking eggs onsite ensure the white is cooked and the yolk has started to thicken;
  • 3) use pasteurised egg in dishes that will not be cooked.
  • Dietitians often recommend high energy high protein milkshakes and many facilities make these onsite. If this occurs at your facility, do staff take extra precautions to minimise growth of microorganisms by making sure they wash their hands, prepare these drinks away from areas used to prepare raw meat, return these milkshakes promptly to cold storage?
  • Resident’s with allergies are catered for and their respective meals covered and labelled to minimise cross contamination

This article has been informed by information obtained from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and New South Wales Government Food Authority. Further information can be found at the following links:

https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/userguide/Documents/Std%20331-Food%20Safety%20Prog%20Vul%20Pers-guideFNL1.pdf
https://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/_Documents/industry/guidelines_vulnerable_persons.pdf
https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/resources/food+safety+program+aged+care+facilities+template

Written by Trish Cowlishaw APD