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Food Poisoning at Nursing Homes

Nursing homes in Hollywood and the rest of Florida are expected to provide quality nutrition as well as a safe environment for residents. Food is an important part of a senior’s well-being, especially since nutritious food can help them thrive the most.

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Unfortunately, food poisoning can occur in nursing homes and does happen. Some nursing homes try to save on food costs by purchasing discounted foods and may end up purchasing expired items. In other cases, incorrect staff training, poor maintenance of kitchen areas, or high staff turnover can contribute to poor food handling or food storage, which can lead to food poisoning.

Food borne illnesses can occur whenever someone eats spoiled, contaminated, or toxic food. Illness can be caused by toxins or bacteria in the food and can cause a host of symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, cramps, and more.

Food poisoning can have serious and even fatal consequences for residents of a nursing home. For seniors who may already have existing conditions, food poisoning can result in gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, severe dehydration, and weakness. Serious poisoning such as botulism has a high risk of fatalities.

Food poisoning can occur due to a number of situations:

  • Food that is stored incorrectly, allowing bacteria to grow. This can occur because food which should be refrigerated or frozen is not kept at the right temperature, or it can be caused by food which is stored in a refrigerator or food storage system which is not set at the right temperatures or is malfunctioning in some fashion.
  • Food which is handled by people who have not wash their hands or follow proper procedures for avoiding cross-contamination. When food preparers prepare raw vegetables on the same surface as raw meat, for example, this can lead to cross-contamination and salmonella poisoning. If servers are sick or fail to wash their hands, they can also contaminate the food.
  • Inventory that is not routinely checked. Food needs to be checked periodically to ensure that it has not expired. Staff should make sure to rotate the food in storage areas to understand what is available and what needs to be used up next.
  • The kitchen is not kept to a high standard of hygiene. Food surfaces should be cleaned regularly and the entire kitchen should be given a thorough cleaning at regular intervals to prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and other contaminants. Cleaning products and toxins should not be kept where food is stored.
  • The kitchen is overrun. Mice, cockroaches, rats, and other pests can leave feces in food handling areas and can contaminate food in a number of ways, which can be life-threatening for residents.

To keep nursing homes safe, it is important that only qualified and well-trained staff have kitchen positions. Rigorous standards of hygiene should be adhered to during every meal and in between meals. Quality foods should be purchased and handled correctly. If there are any violations pointed out by authorities, they should be addressed immediately.

Food poisoning is entirely preventable with proper food handling. If your loved one has suffered food poisoning inside of a nursing home in Hollywood or anywhere else in Florida, it warrants an investigation. It is likely a situation where recklessness has occurred. To discuss the possibility of pursuing a claim or to discuss what can be done to keep your family member safe, contact Flaxman Law Group at 1-866-352-9626 (1-866-FLAXMAN) for free consultation with a Hollywood nursing home abuse attorney.