According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 230 reported unsafe food-related illness outbreaks in nursing homes from 1998-2017, resulting in 7,648 reported illnesses by residents. Of that number, 532 residents were hospitalized, and 54 died due to food-borne illness.
In 2018, unsafe food handling was the third most common citation issued to nursing homes in the U.S., behind lack of infection prevention and injuries caused by a lack of supervision, hazards, or devices. 33% of all nursing homes were cited for violations concerning food safety last year. One of the largest organizations in the U.S., Genesis Healthcare, which operates more than 400 homes in 30 states, received violations at nearly half of its facilities.
Commonly-Cited Unsafe Food Safety Hazards at Nursing Homes
Some of the most frequent food safety citations at nursing homes include:
- Employees failing to wash hands before handling food
- Cockroach infestations
- Mouse droppings in cooking areas
- Flies in undercooked meat
- Debris in meat slicers
- Mold in ice machines
People over the age of 65 are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness. This is due to age-related digestive system issues, weakened immune systems, chronic diseases, and other issues, according to FairWarning.org.
Unfortunately, the fines for food safety violations are relatively low. So facilities are often cited for the same violation numerous times. Approximately one-third of facilities received the same violation two or three times. Ten percent received the same violation three or more times.
There appears that little can be done about these blatant food safety violations. The Trump administration even rolled back existing regulations on nursing homes that included strict food handling standards. The original regulations required directors of food and nutrition services to have specific education and certifications, but the government cited that the legislation was too “burdensome” in its rollback. Thankfully, the Biden administration has reversed that cruel and unethical relaxation of standards.
Contact a New York Nursing Home Lawyer
Did your loved one become ill due to negligent food handling in a nursing home? When facilities fail to provide adequate care for residents, the team at Hach & Rose, LLP will be there to ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable. We fight for the rights of nursing home facility residents and their families in New York and the surrounding areas. We’ll be ready to discuss your case when you call us at (212) 779-0057 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.