The following post is written by Paula Meeks, registered dietitian with Woman’s Hospital.
Food safety is an important consideration for everyone. Whether you’re undergoing cancer treatment or healthy, avoiding tainted and expired foods is critical to maintaining your health.
But some cancer treatments can make you more likely to get infections, so avoiding infection from foods is especially important for treatment patients. When this happens, you need to take special care in the way you handle and prepare food. Here are some ways:
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Put leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as you are done eating. This sounds like common sense, but leaving foods out make them susceptible to developing bacteria.
- Scrub all raw fruits and vegetables before you eat them. Do not eat foods (like raspberries) that cannot be washed well. You should scrub fruits and vegetables that have rough surfaces, such as melons, before you cut them..
- Wash your hands, knives, and counter tops before and after you prepare food. This is most important when preparing raw meat, chicken, turkey, and fish.
- Use one cutting board for meat and one for fruits and vegetables. Cuts in the board from the knife can provide hard-to-clean spaces for bacteria to live.
- Thaw meat, chicken, turkey, and fish in the refrigerator or defrost them in the microwave. Do not leave them sitting out.
- Cook meat, chicken, turkey, and eggs thoroughly. Meats should not have any pink inside. Eggs should be hard, not runny.
- Do not eat raw fish or shellfish, such as sushi and uncooked oysters. Oysters are a Louisiana specialty, but uncooked oysters can contain dangerous bacteria and can lead to hepatitis.
- Make sure that all of your juices, milk products, and honey are pasteurized.
- Do not use foods or drinks that are past their freshness date.
- Do not buy foods from bulk bins, and do not eat at buffets, salad bars, or self-service restaurants. With other people’s hands touching the food, there is no way to guarantee your food’s safety.
- Do not eat foods that show signs of mold. This includes moldy cheeses such as bleu cheese and Roquefort.