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Bulletin #4073, Nutrition for Maine Seniors: Keeping Your Food Safe

Nutrition for Maine Seniors

Keeping Your Food Safe

For information about UMaine Extension programs and resources, visit extension.umaine.edu.
Find more of our publications and books at extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu.

What You Can Do

When buying food:

  • Buy only the amount you’ll use (or freeze for later use) in a short time.
  • Look at the freshness date.
  • Don’t buy badly dented or rusty cans.
  • Immediately refrigerate perishable foods or wrap and freeze to use later.

When preparing food:

  • Wear glasses if you have them and turn up the lights.
  • Clean everything that comes in contact with food in warm, soapy water:
    • Your hands
    • Utensils and dishes
    • Cutting boards
    • Counters
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator or by microwaving on the defrost setting for a few minutes.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and fish—and their juices—away from other foods.
  • Keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold.

Bacteria grow in food left at room temperature. Some bacteria can make you sick.

When handling leftovers at home:

  • Refrigerate everything as soon as possible. Refrigerator temperature should be 40ºF or less.
  • Divide large quantities into small containers, then put in the refrigerator or freezer.

When handling leftovers from eating out:

  • Take leftovers only if you’re going straight home.
  • Put leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as you get home.
  • Don’t eat restaurant leftovers that have been left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Generally, refrigerated leftovers may be kept for up to one week.

Food poisoning facts

  • Each year, two million people get sick from food poisoning.
  • Food poisoning happens because food isn’t handled properly.
  • Bacteria that cause food poisoning are everywhere.
  • You can’t always tell when food turns bad.
  • Cooking or freezing won’t make food safe.

When in doubt, throw it out!

Keeping food safe is important for older adults because. . .

You might have a harder time fighting off the effects of food poisoning. You may have poor vision and might not notice kitchen spills or spots, places where bacteria thrive. You may not want to throw out questionable food because it may seem wasteful.

Source: Cooperative Extension, University of Wisconsin

In cooperation with The Maine Nutrition Network, a partner with Maine Department of Human Services, Bureau of Health.


Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2001, 2006

Call 800.287.0274 (in Maine), or 207.581.3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.

The University of Maine does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status and gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, Orono, ME 04469, 207.581.1226, eoinfo@umit.maine.edu.

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Contact Information

Cooperative Extension Publications
University of Maine, 5741 Libby Hall, Room 114
Orono, ME 04469-5741
Phone: 207.581.3792 | Fax: 207.581.1387
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System