The Consumer Federation of America has found that children from low-income
families have an increased risk for foodborne illnesses. Such illnesses
are especially prevalent among children under age five. Those belonging
to a lower socioeconomic group tend to be exposed to poor nutrition andinadequate health care. Neighborhood stores in low-income areas more frequently engage in food
safety violations and are more apt to have higher concentrations of bacteria
in their high-risk foods, such as milk and eggs. Ohio’s Uniform
Food Safety Code requires that raw eggs must be pasteurized, comply with
consumer grade B standards, and be received and maintained in refrigerated
containers that do not exceed forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. The Code
also requires milk to be pasteurized, comply with grade A standards, and
be received in refrigerated containers that do not exceed forty-five degrees.
Food safety in impoverished areas is foiled by the dilapidated infrastructure,
absence of refrigeration, and restricted resources. Fortunately, to the
advantage of low-income families, lower-risk processed foods tend to make
up a high proportion of their food consumption. Regardless, foodborne
illness is still a real problem among children in low-income families
and results in high medical costs.
Parents can protect their children from foodborne illnesses by taking a
- Grocery shopping: Buy only from reputable vendors. Refrigerated items should
be placed in the shopping cart last and meats placed separate from produce.
Parents should not buy cracked eggs, fruits that have broken skins, unpasteurized
ciders or juices, or prestuffed fresh turkeys or chicken.
- Storage of Food: Ground meat, poultry, and fish should be cooked or frozen
within one to two days of purchase and steaks, chops, and roasts within
three to five days. Ground meats can be kept in the freezer for up to
four months and cooked meats up to three months. Eggs should not be taken
out of their carton when placed in the refrigerator.
- Preparation of Meals: Parents should wash their hands before preparing
meals and clean any fruits and vegetables that will be used in the meals.
Foods should be cooked thoroughly and a meat thermometer used to ensure
meat is the proper temperature before consumption.
- Clean-Up: Leftover foods from meals should immediately be stowed away in
the refrigerator and kept for no more than four days. Kitchen surfaces
should be cleaned to kill bacteria. Parents should also regularly sanitize
the kitchen sink, drain, and garbage disposal.