It is important for seniors to practice safe food storage methods to preserve food freshness and prevent it from spoiling. Food that has spoiled is filled with bacteria and other microorganisms that cause the food to emit an odor or give off a slimy texture. While not all spoiled food is harmful, seniors are at a greater risk of developing illness from eating food that is well beyond its expiration date. For them, it is even more pivotal that they practice safe food storage habits.
The method of food storage and preservation includes the following:
- Freezing – Most foods, such as dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables can last for months on end if kept in the freezer. Be sure, however, that the foods are properly packaged to prevent dry outs and freezer burns. The use of freezer-safe locking containers and freezer Ziploc bags are good choices for storage in the freezer.
- Canning – Canning is a method that has been used before refrigerators and freezers were available. Canning your food is an easy process that can be done by using a pressure machine to remove air from the jar before sealing it.
- Sealing – The process of sealing your food is done much the same way as canning except a bag is used. Both methods involve completely removing the air before the package is sealed. A simple kitchen-top, vacuum sealing machine can be used to suck the air out of the storage bag.
- Curing – Curing is primarily done on meat and is a process of dehydrating food through the use of salt, sugar or nitrates, which suck the moisture out of food. Curing enables meat to be preserved without freezing or refrigeration.
Food becomes a breeding ground for bacteria when exposed to moisture for prolonged periods. Meat, dairy, vegetables and fruits should be thrown out if left outside at room temperature. Don’t think that using one of the above methods will automatically make the food safe for consumption. Once the bacteria is present, methods like freezing will not kill the bacteria, and it will become active again once the food is thawed.
Seniors are four times more likely to get sick from food poisoning than young, healthy adults. Listeria is a common form of food poisoning that can cause health complications and even death. By practicing safe food storage methods, they can reduce the risk of serious illness. As a rule of thumb, anything that is not being eaten should be kept in storage.
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