May 5, 2015

FSIS Provides Resources for Older Adults

By Dr. Robert Campbell

The month of May is designated as Older Americans Month and is a time to celebrate all the contributions that older adults have made to our country. Here at FSIS, we are celebrating Older Americans Month by highlighting food safety for older adults.

Adults 65 and older are at a greater risk for hospitalization and death from infections. As our bodies grow older, there are many changes in our organs and body systems that can make us more susceptible to contracting infections, such as foodborne illness. According to the CDC, the foodborne pathogens with the highest hospitalization rates among older adults are Listeria, E. coliO157:H7 and Salmonella. With weakened immune systems, infections from these pathogens have the potential to be fatal. To avoid contracting a foodborne illness, older adults must be especially careful when handling, preparing and consuming foods.

As part of its ongoing efforts to minimize older adults’ risk for foodborne illness, FSIS is planning to reach out to organizations that serve older adults, such as the National Council on Aging, to provide food safety education information for their members. FSIS has two publications that offer valuable food safety advice for older adults:  “Food Safety for Older Adults” and “To Your Health! Food Safety for Seniors.” Since many older adults and caregivers of older adults are active on social media, FSIS will be sharing our new “Baby Boomers and Food Safety” infographic on Twitter and Facebook. Organizations that serve older adults are encouraged to share our messages.

Consumers of all ages can take advantage of our many other food safety resources. The FoodKeeper app is a new application, available for Android and iOS products, that offers storage advice on over 400 food and beverage items. The USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline also has food safety experts available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET. Consumers can also submit questions and chat live with food safety experts at

United States Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service

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Dr. Robert Campbell

About Dr. Robert Campbell

Bob Campbell has been the meat business for a long time (even before he became a Ph.D.) He has worked for every sized meat plant from the local butcher shop and slaughterhouse in Willington, Connecticut to the largest international meat processors. Along the way from small town Connecticut to international meat processing he has found that people are always interested in how meat is processed, how it fits into healthy and enjoyable eating and how to prepare it safely. Meat can be an important part of the diet for those of us at 6’s and 7’s and showing less experienced folks (like our kids) how to cook and prepare meat so it is safe and tasty is one of the things I’ll talk about here. I started out in this business in the late 60’s as a traditional butcher’s apprentice (mom said I needed a job) and it has turned out to be my profession. When I got to college I discovered that there was something called meat science and that the meat lab need experienced help to help it do research and provide practical experience to the students so I ended up with a degree in agriculture just as the economy hit the skids in the 70’s. So I went off to grad school and got an MS in food science. After that I came back to the east coast and started working for the Howard Johnson restaurant chain – the French chefs would dream up something and give me a recipe for 5 pounds and I had to scale it up to 500 lb at a time which got me deeply involved in the process of making foods and scaling them up to industrial processes. When HJ shut down their commissary department, I got a job with IBP – at the time the largest processor of cattle and pork in the world (IBP was later bought by Tyson and the largest meat company now (2013) is called JBS). After IBP I went back to school and worked for Kansas State for 10 years doing meat research and international outreach so I have processed and tasted meat on or from every continent except Antarctica. I also managed to get a Ph.D. in Food Science. Since receiving my Ph.D. I have worked for companies that canned meat, made pork rind snacks, spent some time consulting in food safety and R and D and currently am Food safety director for Kayem Foods Inc. My fortunate meeting with Dr. Rappaport at a friends’ wedding has led to a long friendship and enduring interest in her projects. Because of the questions I have gotten from people all over the world on how to prepare food that is safe delicious and nutritious, I agreed to be part of 6’s and 7’s. People need a place to go that provides current, clear and correct ideas on how to live healthy and happy. Eating is a major part of that and I trust you will find the information we provide will be useful, understandable and will help you as part of the first generation that makes the active 6’s and 7’s the most interesting and fulfilling part of your lives so far.