Foodwise (news articles)
27 August 2015
Many hospitals and aged-care facilities have a zero tolerance of serving higher risk foods such as rockmelon to their patients and long-term residents due to the potential risk of exposure to Listeria monocytogenes following two recent high profile outbreaks linked to the serving of rockmelon.
However, we should acknowledge that the groups of people who are categorised into the vulnerable persons food safety scheme are diverse and this distinction should be made.
The vulnerable persons population include groups of people in nursing homes and hospitals such as residents, long-stay patients and psychiatric patients who are potentially healthy adults and children. However, it also includes acute care patients who are especially subject to infection and require a level of protection higher than those with healthy immune systems.
When the Guidelines for food service to vulnerable persons was revised over three years ago, it was the clear intention of the Food Authority to allow for a wide range of fruit and vegetables to be available for use by hospitals and aged-care facilities.
Suitable risk management processes must be in place to protect the truly vulnerable and to sanitise riskier produce. In regards to melons, these approaches may include:
- Sourcing melons from farms that have an audited quality assurance program that addresses food safety issues
- Sanitising melons prior to preparation
- Preparing melons at an on-site kitchen – ideally just prior to service.
Risk management provides centres with the freedom to choose what types of food they will serve in their facilities. The decision to not serve higher risk foods such as rockmelon may then be made on a case by case basis and decided by the physician and/or dietician in consultation with the patient and/or their family.
Having access to a wide range of healthy foods can greatly increase the quality of life for many people in the vulnerable persons sector who are otherwise healthy. This is particularly true within the aged-care sector where the facility is the resident’s home.