How to safely prepare food for the vulnerable

Preparing Food for the Vulnerable

In the light of the current pandemic, an increasing number of individuals are deemed vulnerable. At this time, it is more important than ever that chefs and kitchen/restaurant managers consider the needs and requirements of those at risk. Where the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, find themselves particularly vulnerable, those operating commercial kitchens should be increasingly vigilant and aware of the requirements of patrons and patients in the context of rapidly changing circumstances.

Those working at aged care facilities should note the relationship between mental health, morale and the food served to patients. However, certain foods, deemed hazardous owing to their risk of disease should be avoided. Such foods can include, unpasteurised dairy products, soft serve ice cream, pate, cold meats, mouldy and soft cheeses and seafood. Even smaller amounts of these foods can present a risk to elderly patients whose immune systems may be compromised by lower acid levels in the gut. This should be accounted for when preparing and serving food.   

Infants and children under five are also considered vulnerable as their immune systems are not yet fully developed, increasing their susceptibility to foodborne illnesses. Those preparing foods for infants and young children should wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly and be sure to keep any food stored for lunch or snack times cool until consumption with a dry ice pack.

Members of indigenous communities residing in the Northern Territory should be aware of the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. By developing a habit of regular handwashing, members of these communities can help to bring down high rates of infection in Aboriginal children residing in the area.

Pregnant woman and individuals with diabetes, various cancers, ulcerative colitis and cirrhosis may be at particular risk of infection. Meticulous attention must be paid to sanitation and preventing cross-contamination when preparing food for any groups who may be classified as ‘at risk’. Disposable gloves, colour coded chopping boards and food labels should be used as part of a process to reduce the risk of microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses spreading during the current pandemic. Symptoms of a virus may include fever, a dry cough, headaches, muscle aches and a loss of taste or smell. See a healthcare professional for examination and potential testing if you have developed symptoms and are concerned.

Women who are pregnant and individuals with a suppressed immune system should be particularly cautious around potentially hazardous food products and take the following precautionary measures when handling food:

-        Meat should be frozen for several days before being prepared and cooked

-        Non-potable or untreated water should be avoided

-        Chopping boards should be sanitised regularly, surfaces and utensils should also be sanitised

-        Food labels should be used to ensure that food is in date

-        Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly and peeled prior to consumption

-        Disposable gloves, if worn whilst handling food, should be disposed of and replaced regularly

Fildes Food Safety provides a range of kitchen supplies including hygiene and sanitation products, labels and food delivery solutions for healthcare and aged care providers. Order online today or get in touch with our friendly and experienced customer service team.



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