Food safety for those dealing with cancer

Being aware of food safety practices should be an important part of a person’s cancer treatment to prevent foodborne illness.

October is designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we see many groups supporting this cause by wearing bright pink colors. Personally or through association, many of us have been impacted by cancer of some.

Although it’s always important, following food safety practices is especially important when dealing with cancer. If a patient’s immune system is weakened from chemotherapy or radiation treatments, it can decrease their white blood cells that fight off foodborne illness. Patients and their families’ should take care to cook food to safe minimum internal temperatures and practice good food safety habits.

Patients might also want to consider making some changes in their diets

Foods to Avoid

Foods to Eat

Raw or undercooked meat, poultry or seafood

Meat, poultry, & seafood cooked to a safe internal temperature

Unpasteurized or raw milk

Pasteurized milk

Raw or undercooked eggs

Cooked eggs with a firm yolk

Unwashed fresh produce

Washed fresh or cooked produce

Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized (raw) milk

Hard cheeses or soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk

Cold hot dogs & deli meats

Reheat hot dogs & deli meat to steaming hot or 165°

Raw sprouts (alfalfa, bean, etc.)

Cooked sprouts

Other food safety habits to incorporate in day to day living includes these four concepts:

  • Clean – wash hands and surfaces often
  • Separate – keep raw meat, poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods
  • Cook – cook foods to a safe internal temperature
  • Chill – chill perishable foods within 2 hours

It’s important to know that symptoms of a foodborne illness may resemble a flu bug. Fever, nausea and vomiting, dehydration, upset stomach, cramps and diarrhea. If you suspect you have a foodborne illness contact your health care provider immediately.

Foodborne illness can be serious – or even fatal – it is important for you to know and practice safe food-handling behaviors to help reduce your risk of getting sick from contaminated food. Michigan State University Extension encourages practicing good personal hygiene and food safety practices to avoid potential foodborne illnesses, to learn more visit this site from the Food and Drug Administration

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