Food strategies for seniors in home care.

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The information given here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to act as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or nutritional guidance.

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Food Handling, Sanitation, and Food Storage:

Clean / Separate / Cook / Chill / Discard / Mistakes

The purpose of a refrigerator and a freezer is to extend the keeping time of various foods, for a few days, a week, a month or two, but never indefinitely. Refrigeration slows the growth of bacteria, but does not stop it. Freezing puts bacteria to sleep, but they can still wake up, multiply, and cause illness. A safe kitchen is one in which you follow and do not exceed recommended keeping times. If in doubt, throw it out!

Fresh meats like beef, lamb and pork keep at most three to five days in a refrigerator, four to six months in the freezer. Poultry is good for a day or two in the fridge, nine months to a year in the freezer. Chopped meat keeps just a day or two in the refrigerator, up to six months in the freezer. Bacon keeps a week or so in the fridge, only a month in the freezer. Raw sausage will last a day or two refrigerated, perhaps a month frozen.

Most fresh fish and seafood lasts a maximum of three days in the fridge. Freeze raw lean fish up to six months, raw fatty fish up to three months, cooked fish up to six months.

Fresh eggs in their shells can last up to five weeks in the refrigerator, but do not freeze well. Cooked eggs can last a week or so. Commercial mayonnaise (which contains egg) is good in the refrigerator for up to two months only, and does not freeze well.

Leftover soups and stews containing meat last up to four days in the refrigerator, and freeze for up to three months. Cooked meat leftovers refrigerate up to four days and can freeze from four to six months. An opened package of luncheon or deli meat will refrigerate for three to five days, freeze one or two months. An unopened package will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Deli salads made from chicken, ham, tuna, egg and macaroni last a maximum of five days in the fridge and do not freeze well.

Grains and pastas stored at room temperature in a cabinet will keep up to a year or so if stored in tightly sealed airtight containers.

Be careful in storing seeds and nuts. They spoil easily, even if refrigerated (and often they are not). The culprit is their fat content. Olive oil and other cooking oils go rancid easily, so try to purchase in small quantities. Many people believe cooking oils can last indefinitely, but even if a year-old cooking oil does not cause illness, it still may fall short in the flavor and nutrition department. If in doubt, throw it out!