Eat clean and safe food: a food-based dietary guideline for the elderly in South Africa
As the population of elderly individuals in South Africa (SA) grows, there is a need to promote the continued health of these persons as they progress through the life cycle. Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) for the SA elderly were developed to address this need. These thirteen guidelines for the elderly collectively offer a basis of health practices that the elderly can follow to ensure that they are taking the right steps toward maintaining their health. While the guideline ‘Eat clean and safe food’ is not included in the current SA FBDGs, this recommendation is of particular importance to the elderly, who face a much higher risk of foodborne illness than most of the general population due to a number of factors. Reduced immunity and other physiological changes are a result of ageing, malnutrition, diseases and and/or medication side effects. All these factors play a role in the elderly’s risk of foodborne illness. Increased susceptibility to certain pathogens also causes higher rates of foodborne illness infection. Lastly, elderly people’s food safety knowledge and pre-established beliefs and practices regarding food handling and preparation can be influential in their sensitivity to foodborne disease. These risk factors, coupled with the heavy burden of foodborne illness and existing gaps in food safety policy, practices and education in SA, substantiate the need for a dietary guideline to address the importance of clean and safe food consumption among the elderly in SA.
Keywords elderly, Food Based Dietary Guidelines, food safety, South Africa
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