Food safety is one of the most important considerations in a Nursing Home. With over 300,000 elderly Australians residing in Aged Care Homes, ensuring that these seniors have the best nutrition is paramount to their quality of life.

Enjoyable food is crucial to the happiness of residents. However, Aged Care Homes have sometimes come under fire for serving insubstantial food. It’s also a common misconception that older people in homes need less protein, vitamins, and calories than younger people. However, seniors need nutritious food to keep them healthy.

In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at the food safety standards in Nursing Homes and why it’s crucial to have them reviewed by a Food Safety Supervisor.

Food safety in Aged Care Homes

Australia’s food safety standards are regulated by the Food Standards Australia & New Zealand (FSANZ). For Nursing Homes in particular, food safety standards are controlled by Standard 3.3.1, which covers the responsibilities of food businesses to prepare healthy and safe food for the most vulnerable members of our society – including seniors, children, and people who are immunocompromised because of illness or treatments they are receiving.

Standard 3.3.1 applies to most businesses that work in food processing, and examples of facilities that must comply with the standard include:

  • Aged Care Facilities (including Nursing Homes)
  • Hospital Facilities
  • Child Care Facilities  

Not all businesses serving food to vulnerable people must comply with the standard, as it depends on several criteria – including which Australian state or territory the company is located in. Here are examples whereby a business is exempted from complying with the standard:

  • Businesses that serve food for five or fewer people at a time
  • Organisations serving food that is not considered potentially hazardous, such as tea and coffee with biscuits
  • Organisations that provide only ingredients for foods, or foods that must still be prepared by cooking
  • Organisations that mainly prepare food for the general population, but may also sometimes prepare food for members of the vulnerable population.

 A full guide to Standard 3.3.1 can be found on the FSANZ website.

Why older people are more at risk for foodborne illness

Seniors’ immune systems tend to weaken as they grow older, making them more vulnerable to foodborne illnesses. Furthermore, the digestive system of an older adult typically produces less acid and less protection against germs, leaving them more vulnerable.

Food poisoning in the elderly can result in serious consequences such as dehydration, improper functioning of the neuromuscular system and sometimes even death. Seniors also require more time to recover from food poisoning than younger people.

If your loved one is in a Nursing Home, you should discuss food safety standards with the home and understand how they prepare their food. Some Nursing Homes might have rules about accepting and reheating food, so it’s also essential to clarify the rules before bringing in food for your loved one.

For a detailed explanation on what types of food to avoid for seniors and their alternatives, visit The Food Safety Information Council website.

Why Nursing Homes need a Food Safety Supervisor

Because the elderly are at a higher risk of food illness, Aged Care Homes need to have a Food Safety Supervisor on hand to ensure that the best food practices are adhered to. A Food Safety Supervisor can ensure that safe and healthy foods are purchased, cooked, and stored correctly according to food safety regulations.

Having a supervisor in the Nursing Home would go a long way in preventing unnecessary risks to the elderly. In Australia, not all states require Aged Care Homes to employ a Food Safety Supervisor, and the food safety laws vary across different states. To establish a healthy food intake for your loved one, you could check with your Nursing Home if there is a Food Safety Supervisor in the facility.

Food safety is one of the many considerations when finding a suitable Nursing Home for your loved one. While it may be daunting to find the right Nursing Home, there’s help available. CareAbout helps carers and seniors find the proper care for themselves and their loved ones, and navigate the various available Nursing Home options. For experienced help finding care providers and Nursing Homes, contact our team for a FREE, personalised discussion.