J Epidemiol Community Health 52:745-748 doi:10.1136/jech.52.11.745

Food safety knowledge and practice among elderly people living at home.

  1. A E Johnson,
  2. A J Donkin,
  3. K Morgan,
  4. J M Lilley,
  5. R J Neale,
  6. R M Page,
  7. R Silburn
  1. Department of Health Care of the Elderly, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre.


      OBJECTIVE: To assess the food storage knowledge and practice of elderly people living at home. METHODS: Three phase survey data collection: face to face interviews; dietary diaries with a food frequency questionnaire; and follow up interviews. SETTING: Urban Nottingham. PARTICIPANTS: 809 elderly people (aged 65+) randomly selected from general practitioner lists. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Respondent's refrigerator temperature; knowledge of freezer star rating; understanding of "use by" and "sell by" dates; reported ability to read food product safety labels. RESULTS: From a weighted total of 645 refrigerators measured, 451 (70%) were too warm for the safe storage of food (> or = 6 degrees Celsius). Only 41% of respondents (n = 279) knew the star rating of their freezer. Within a smaller sub-sample knowledge of the "use by" and "sell by" dates was good, but 45% of these respondents reported difficulty reading food labels. The storage of foods at inappropriate temperatures was not independent of socioeconomic or demographic status, and tended to be more likely among the poorer and those not living alone. CONCLUSIONS: Food storage practices among the majority of elderly people interviewed in this study do not meet recommended safety standards to minimise the risk of food poisoning.