Providing meals to nursing home residents is one of the fundamental tasks of nursing homes. It is a big job to safely provide meals to many residents, and the consequences of something going wrong can be significant or result in death. Accordingly, during December—which is Worldwide Food Service Safety Month—it is important to consider what nursing homes should do to provide food safely and what could happen if they do not do so.
Wisconsin nursing home regulations require that:
- A director of food services be appointed. This person must hold certain credentials such as being a dietician or completing a course in food service management.
- All readily perishable food be refrigerated.
Additionally the Wisconsin Food Code requires specific hygienic practices be implemented to prevent foodborne illnesses and fatalities.
The Danger of Negligent Food Preparation In Nursing Homes
When the legal requirements are not met, then spoiled food or food that is contaminated with illness causing bacteria or viruses can cause nursing home residents to become sick. Consider what could happen, if for example:
- Food service workers do not wash their hands.
- Food service workers who are sick are preparing food.
- Food is not kept at the proper temperature.
- Food is not stored in a way to prevent cross-contamination.
- Food is kept out too long between the time it is prepared and the time it is consumed.
By failing to follow proper food storage and preparation guidelines, nursing home residents who may already be weakened and vulnerable to disease may be put at risk. If your loved one has become sick or has died as a result of food poisoning or a communicable disease that was transferred during food preparation or serving, then you may have a nursing home neglect claim.
During this Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, let’s help protect the residents of Wisconsin nursing homes by asking questions about food preparation and storage and by reporting any concerns to nursing home administrators or the local board of health so that more people do not suffer needlessly.