From an article by
McLeod Outpatient Oncology Registered Dietician
Cancer treatment weakens your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight off infection caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be in food.
“Some of the symptoms of a foodborne illness are similar to those you may experience during your cancer treatment such as fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea,” explains McLeod Outpatient Oncology Registered Dietitian Courtney Moore. “Despite having a weakened immune system during cancer treatment, you can help protect yourself from foodborne illness by eating safely. Consuming a diet rich in lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products can help prevent against infection and boost your immunity.”
Follow these guidelines:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds…
- before and after preparing food.
- after contact with pets, garbage or using the restroom.
- Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables under running water while scrubbing to remove excess dirt and residue before cutting or peeling. This includes thick-skinned fruits such as melon, oranges, lemons or limes to ensure bacteria from the outside of the fruit is not introduced while cutting.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, fish and produce. Use clean cutting boards for slicing cooked meats, poultry and fish. Never reuse a cutting board for food, unless it has been cleaned first.
- Thaw foods in the refrigerator or microwave. Do not thaw foods at room temperature or in water. Foods should be cooked immediately after thawing.
- Use a food thermometer to avoid undercooked foods. Cook red meats to an internal temperature of 145F and poultry, casseroles and leftovers to 165F.
- Prepared foods should be kept hot above 140F and cold foods should be kept below 40F.
- Eggs should be thoroughly cooked. Do not consume uncooked foods that contain raw eggs, such as cookie dough or cake batter.
- Refrigerate leftover food within 2 hours of cooking. Use shallow pans or divide leftovers into smaller containers to ensure food cools to proper temperature in time.
- If leftover food has not been consumed within 24 hours, throw it away.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
- Avoid buffets, delis, salad bars, potlucks or public self-serve food including communal condiments, salsa, or dips.
- Do not purchase foods that are past “Use by” or Best by” date.
- Do not purchase or use cans of food that are dented, bulging, rusted or leaking.
An Oncology Registered Dietitian can support you throughout your journey with cancer to maximize your nutrition through individualized plans developed with evidenced-based research.
Services are available to patients with a current or previous cancer diagnosis and are actively followed by an oncologist at McLeod Regional Medical Center. To contact an Oncology Registered Dietician, ask your Oncologist for a referral or call 843-777-5931 for an appointment.
Sources include: McLeod Health, US Department of Health & Human Services, US Food & Drug Administration, Utah Department of Health, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics