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Unsafe food handling at nursing home is a lesser known form of neglect

food-safety“Unsafe food handling” was the third most common citation for American nursing homes in 2018 behind “lack of infection prevention and control” and “accidents related to  hazards, lack of supervision or devices” according to data from the from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. From 1998 to 2017, The Center for Disease Control recorded 230 food outbreaks in nursing homes resulting in 54 deaths, 532 hospitalizations and 7648 sickened residents.

33 % of all nursing homes in the nation were cited for food safety violations last year.  Among them, the nation largest chain of nursing homes, Genesis Healthcare had 47% of its nursing homes cited for food safety violations. The chain owns around 400 nursing homes in 27 states.

Unsafe food handling incidents reported at nursing homes all over the country recently included hundred of mouse droppings on the hood of the stove, flies in under-cooked hamburgers, moldy ice machines, mysterious debris in meat slicer and of course numerous complaints of cockroaches invasions and employees not washing their hands before handling food. These unhealthy conditions can potentially sickened and killed fragile nursing home residents.

Because the penalties are low,  many nursing homes are being cited for the same food safety violation several times. A third of them were cited two or three times for the same violation and 10% of them were cited three times or more for the same violation.

Trump administration proposes to roll back existing nursing home regulations

While these numbers might seem to be a call for more supervision, the Trump administration did the opposite and announced in July that it was rolling back existing nursing home regulations including standards regarding food handling. The reason indicated by the administration was that the roll back would eliminate “unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome”.  The actual regulation requires that directors of food and nutrition services at nursing homes have proper educational requirements and certifications. Under the new proposal, “a few years of experience” would replace education and certifications.

Read more in Fair Warning

Picture: courtesy of Wikipedia