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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Seniors, and their food handlers and caregivers, need food safety and nutrition education


Seniors are at greater risk than other adults for foodborne illness, poor nutrition and high rates of nutrition- and lifestyle-related chronic diseases. They also represent a major underserved segment of the UC Cooperative Extension client population. The Make Food Safe for Seniors (MFSFS) initiative assessed food safety and nutrition education needs of fixed-income seniors and food handlers and caregivers serving seniors in 10 California counties. Baseline survey results found unsafe practices by over 50% of the participants in six areas — and by over 65% of participants in three of those areas. After one food safety training, a post-test showed an average knowledge gain of 18.1%; seniors had gained the least knowledge, food handlers had gained some knowledge, and caregivers had gained the most. The unsafe food handling practices of a majority of the study group, as well as poor food behaviors, suggested areas in which education could reinforce or improve food safety, healthy eating and disease prevention practices of seniors, caregivers and food handlers serving seniors.

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