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Safer Food Choices for Adults 65 Years or Older

Help Prevent Food Poisoning

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Older adults have a higher risk of getting sick from food poisoning and having a more serious illness. Image for illustration purposes
Older adults have a higher risk of getting sick from food poisoning and having a more serious illness. Image for illustration purposes
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Older adults have a higher risk of getting sick from food poisoning and having a more serious illness.

To prevent food poisoning, some foods are safer choices than others. That’s because some foods—such as undercooked meat and eggs, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized milk — are more often associated with foodborne illnesses. Use the table below as a guide to safer food choices.


Poultry and Meat

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Riskier Choice

  • Raw or undercooked poultry or meat
    • Poultry includes chicken and turkey
    • Meat includes beef, pork, lamb, and veal
  • Unheated deli meat, cold cuts, hot dogs, and fermented or dry sausages
  • Refrigerated pâté or meat spreads

Safer Choice

  • Poultry and meat cooked to a safe internal temperatureUse a food thermometer to check.
    • All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey, cooked to 165°F
    • Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork cooked to 145°F (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
    • Ground meats, such as beef and pork, cooked to 160°F
  • Deli meat, cold cuts, hot dogs, and fermented or dry sausages heated to 165°F or until steaming hot
  • Pâté or meat spreads in sealed, airtight containers that don’t need to be kept refrigerated before opening

Deli salads

Riskier Choice

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Premade deli salads, such as:

  • coleslaw
  • potato salad
  • tuna salad
  • chicken salad
  • egg salad

Safer Choice

  • Homemade deli salads

Fruits and Vegetables

Riskier Choice

  • Any raw or undercooked sprouts, such as alfalfa and bean
  • Unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables, including lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Cut melon left out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if it’s exposed to temperatures hotter than 90°F, such as a picnic or hot car)

Safer Choice

  • Cooked sprouts
  • Washed vegetables and fruits (washed and then cooked are safest)
  • Freshly cut melon or cut melon kept refrigerated for 7 or fewer days

Juice

Riskier Choice

Unpasteurized juice or cider

Safer Choice

  • Pasteurized juice or cider
  • Unpasteurized juice or cider brought to a rolling boil at least 1 minute before drinking

Milk

Riskier Choice

Unpasteurized (raw) milk, and dairy products made from unpasteurized milk

Safer Choice

Pasteurized milk, and dairy products made from pasteurized milk


Cheese

Riskier Choice

  • Soft cheese made from unpasteurized (raw) milk— for example, queso fresco, brie, camembert, and blue-veined cheese
  • Unheated cheese sliced at a deli

Safer Choice

  • Hard cheese, such as cheddar and swiss
  • Cottage cheese, cream cheese, string cheese, and feta
  • Pasteurized soft cheeses heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot
  • Deli-sliced cheeses heated to 165°F or until steaming hot

Eggs

Riskier Choice

Raw or undercooked (runny) eggs, and foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs, such as

  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Raw cookie dough
  • Eggnog

Safer Choice

  • Eggs cooked until the yolks and whites are firm
  • Egg dishes (frittata, quiche, casserole) cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F if they contain meat or poultry
  • Egg dishes cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F if they do not contain meat or poultry
  • Pasteurized eggs in foods that will not be cooked to a safe temperature, such as mousse and salad dressing

Fish

Riskier Choice

  • aw or undercooked fish or shellfish, including sashimi, sushi, and ceviche
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood (except in a cooked dish). Refrigerated smoked seafood is usually labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky”

Safer Choice 

  • Fish cooked to a safe internal temperature of 145°F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork
  • Shellfish cooked until shells open during cooking or until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
  • Smoked fish in sealed, airtight packages or containers that don’t need to be kept refrigerated before opening
  • Smoked fish cooked in a casserole or other cooked dishes
  • Canned fish and seafood

Flour

Riskier Choice

Raw dough or raw batter made with raw (uncooked) flour

Safer Choice 

  • Food made with flour that is cooked following the package directions or recipe
  • Dough and batter made with heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs
  • Dough and batter that is labeled “edible” or “safe to eat raw”

Select the image below and print for your own personal reference:

Always follow the four steps to food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill—to protect yourself from food poisoning.

Learn about current foodborne outbreaks and the foods linked to them.

Information Source: CDC

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