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Thousands of unsafe food citations impact the ailing elderly


You entrust the nursing home you chose to take of your loved one on your behalf. But there could be some problems brewing with their long-term care, and those issues are coming from the kitchen.

Unsafe food handling ranks third for common citations inside nursing homes across the U.S. Unsanitary conditions made that rank after 33% of facilities fell short of federal rules governing the storage, preparation and serving of food to residents. Establishments aren’t learning from their mistakes, and the ones under their care are the ones paying the price.

Dirty dishing

These offenders are typically falling in the same trap, allowing bacteria to run unchecked in kitchens:

  • Food in danger: Inspectors levied citations against one location seven times in the last three years, most recently for serving expired food to residents. They were also guilty in the past of failing to store food in a sealed container, which is an issue when juices from things like chicken and seafood can contaminate other foods that you serve without cooking.
  • Proper sanitization: The food they’re serving isn’t the only hazard. Investigators in one case found that the staff hadn’t been checking the amount of sanitizer in dishwashers, so they never realized that the machine was never actually applying the cleaning solution to any dishes. The dishes found their way put back into circulation without any soap to remove bacteria.
  • Washing up: Soap isn’t just for the dishes. Inspectors found instances of employees touching the resident’s food without washing their hands or wearing protective gloves. This is another recipe for bringing outside germs into what should be a clean environment.

Serving claims

One-third of violators of food handling guidelines are repeat offenders, but that may not begin to cover the breadth of the problem. A big issue in combatting the problem is underreporting, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes to voluntary reporting by health departments, limited training and resources and undiagnosed illnesses in residents.

If you suspect they your family member may be a victim of elderly abuse, it can help to know the prevalence of issues stemming from unsanitary conditions. Understanding where the problem rests can be the first step toward getting a solution.