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FoodNet Survey of Food Use and Practices in Long-Term Care Facilities

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Foodborne illness is an important problem among the elderly. One risk factor for foodborne illness and diarrhea-associated mortality among the elderly is residence in a long-term care facility (LTCF); thus, these facilities must implement measures to ensure safe food. To assess safe food practices, knowledge, and policies, we used a mailed, self-administered questionnaire to survey food service directors at LTCFs that were certified to receive Medicare or Medicaid at eight Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) sites. Surveys were distributed to 1,630 LTCFs; 55% (865 of 1,568) of eligible facilities returned a completed questionnaire. Only three LTCFs completely followed national recommendations for prevention of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Nine percent of LTCFs reported serving soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Most LTCFs reported routinely serving ready-to-eat deli meats; however, few reported always heating deli meats until steaming hot before serving (only 19% of the LTCFs that served roast beef, 13% of those that served turkey, and 11% of those that served ham). Most LTCFs (92%) used pasteurized liquid egg products, but only 36% used pasteurized whole shell eggs. Regular whole shell eggs were used by 62% of facilities. Few LTCFs used irradiated ground beef (7%) or irradiated poultry products (6%). The results of this survey allowed us to identify several opportunities for prevention of foodborne illnesses in LTCFs. Some safety measures, such as the use of pasteurized and irradiated foods, were underutilized, and many facilities were not adhering to national recommendations on the avoidance of certain foods considered high risk for elderly persons. Enhanced educational efforts focusing on food safety practices and aimed at LTCFs are needed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA; Atlanta Research and Education Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia 30033, USA 2: New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York 12237, USA 3: California Emerging Infections Program, Oakland, California 94612, USA 4: Connecticut Emerging Infections Program, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA 5: Georgia Division of Public Health, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, USA 6: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, Colorado 80246, USA 7: Oregon Department of Human Services, Portland, Oregon 97243, USA 8: Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville, Tennessee 37243, USA 9: University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA 10: University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA 11: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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