Cancer treatment may weaken your immune system. Lowered immunity can increase your risk of developing a foodborne illness because your body is less able to fight off infection.
Foodborne illnesses result from eating food that has been contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Follow these 4 simple steps to keep your food safe at home:
1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds:
- Before and after handling food
- After using the restroom, touching pets, or handling garbage
- After using them, clean surfaces and wash utensils such as:
- Cutting boards
- Kitchen knives, serving utensils, and flatware
- Countertops and tabletops
- Use clean sponges and dishtowels, and change them often.
- Wash fruits and vegetables under running water while scrubbing them, even if you plan to peel them.
2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.
- Keep raw meat, seafood, and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods.
- Put raw meats and seafood in plastic bags when grocery shopping to prevent dripping onto other foods or surfaces.
- Use separate cutting boards: One for raw meats and seafood, another for produce.
- Never reuse a dish that has held raw meats or seafood without first washing it with warm, soapy water.
3. Cook: Heat food to the proper temperatures.
- Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of foods as you cook them. A thermometer is the only way to make sure the food has reached a temperature high enough to kill any bacteria.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends these minimum internal temperatures for certain foods:
- Beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, or roasts: 145°F (62.8°C)
- Ground meats: 160°F (71.1°C)
- Poultry: 165°F (73.9°C)
- Fish and shellfish: 145°F (62.8°C)
- Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked): 145°F (62.8°C)
- Ham, fully cooked: 140°F (60°C)
- Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F (73.9°C)
- Egg dishes: 160°F (71.1°C)
- Keep food hot at 140°F (60°C) or higher while serving.
4. Chill: Keep foods in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to cook.
- Refrigerate or freeze all perishable foods within 1 hour, including:
- Fresh or raw foods after grocery shopping
- Cooked foods after meals
- Eat cooked, refrigerated leftovers within 48 hours.
- Check the expiration dates and look for signs of spoilage: When in doubt, throw it out.
- Thaw frozen meats and seafood in the refrigerator, microwave, or cold water. Do not leave frozen foods on a countertop to thaw.
When eating out:
- Avoid self-serve restaurants such as buffets and salad bars. Because many people come in contact with the food, there is a higher risk of contamination.
- Do not eat raw or undercooked meat, fish, shellfish, or egg.
- Avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.
Published June 2019
Stanford Health Care © 2019