It is estimated that by 2025 more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over, with a particularly rapid increase in the number of over 80s. Chronic diseases, malnutrition, weakened immune system and other health factors increase risk of foodborne illness and hazardous nutritional habits in elderly. Food safety and nutrition security are essential to promote active ageing. In order to evaluate elderly’s perceptions, practices and attitudes with respect to food safety, an articulate questionnaire was elaborated to investigate knowledge and critical aspects about unsafe food-handling practices and nutrition habits, including ethical aspects. This study was conducted in Gemelli Teaching Hospital, in Rome, Italy, between April 2014 and March 2015. Were interviewed 201 elderly 65 years old attending the Geriatrics Ward, the Outpatient Unit and the Gym of the Centre of Aging Medicine. Data were analyzed by means of frequencies and mean and standard deviations. The mean age of the sample was 74 years (SD = 7.7). The subjective perception of safe nutrition is high, in fact 64.2% of the elderly respondents think to have a balanced diet. Interviewed people get information about proper nutrition mainly from TV, papers and Internet (30%) and from health workers (34.8%) such as dietitian and nutritionist whereas only 15.4% from general practitioners. Regarding food safety and hygiene, 33.8% refers to consume expired food, even more than once a month. Between 80% and 90% of all the participants affirm to follow all the food safety practices during preparation and cooking, even though 49.3% defrost food at room temperature before preparation. These results underline the need for empowerment of elderly with respect to nutritional health and food safety. In fact, specific and targeted educational interventions for the elderly and their care-givers could be promoted in order to improve adoption of recommended food safety practices and safe nutritional habits among older adults. Key messages This study focuses on factors on which act to promote active ageing and to prevent foodborne illness in elderly Educational and preventive interventions for the elderly and their care-givers are a key measure of public health to stay healthy into old age
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-373
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event8th European Public Health Conference - Milano
Duration: 14 Oct 201517 Oct 2015


  • Elderly
  • Food safety
  • Nutritional habits

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