A recent study by researchers at TSU, in collaboration with RTI International, a worldwide research and development firm, suggests that the elderly and their caregivers may not be getting the food safety education they need to implement safe cooking and eating practices.

As a result, the study shows older adults, along with pregnant women, young children and immune-compromised individuals, face a higher risk of severe illness from foodborne pathogens than the rest of the population.

The study, headed by TSU’s Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences, Dr. Sandria L. Godwin, was conducted using focus groups with 55 people who work with older adults, including doctors, nurses, home healthcare providers and relative caregivers. It found that most participants lacked training and knowledge regarding safe food practices for the elderly.

The results of the study, published recently in “Educational Gerontology,” also suggest that some healthcare providers may not be equipped to educate older adults about how to avoid foodborne illness.

While physicians and physicians’ assistants had received training in diagnosis and treatment of foodborne illness, they were not trained in preventative measures for older adults, the study found. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners received no foodborne illness training.  Some home health providers had received formal instruction in safe cooking and food preparation, while others had not. read more