Who is the Higher Risk Customer – Servsafe

High Risk


Elderly people

Infants and preschool-age children

Pregnant women

People with cancer or on chemotherapy

People with compromised immune deficiency
Transplant recipients


Why are the elderly, small children and people who take certain medications more at risk for foodborne illness? They have weak immune systems.

Adults 65 and older are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death from foodborne illness.  For example, older adults residing in nursing homes are ten times more likely to die from bacterial gastroenteritis than the general population.   As data shows, food safety is particularly important for adults 65 and older.

This increased risk of foodborne illness is because our organs and body systems go through changes as we age. These changes include:

  • The gastrointestinal tract holds on to food for a longer period of time, allowing bacteria to grow.
  • The liver and kidneys may not properly rid our bodies of foreign bacteria and toxins.
  • The stomach may not produce enough acid.  The acidity helps to reduce the number of bacteria in our intestinal tract.  Without proper amounts of acid, there is an increased risk of bacterial growth.
  • Underlying chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, may also increase a person’s risk of foodborne illness.
Pathogen Number of Confirmed Cases in Adults 65 and older in 2013 % of Adults 65 and Older Hospitalized from Pathogen in 2013
Campylobacter 964 31
Listeria 63 90
Cryptosporidium 125 24
E. coli 0157 47 59
E. coli non-0157 44 22
Salmonella 947 48
Shigella 83 43
Yersinia 37 56

What we can do to keep our high risk customers safe?

Learn about safety tips get your Food Manger’s Safety protection Certification. Learn the risks.
Stay informed, educate your staff.


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