Food Safety during Cancer Treatment

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Food Safety during Cancer Treatment

During your cancer treatment, your body struggles to fight infection. This makes it even more important to ensure your foods meet safety needs. You must reduce your risk for foodborne illnesses and other infections. Below are guidelines for increasing food safety during cancer treatment:

  • Wash surfaces and your hands often
  • Keep one area of your kitchen clean for food preparation and one for eating
  • Do not use sponges, using paper towels instead
  • Apply antibacterial cleaning spray to kitchen and eating surfaces, such as those with bleach or ammonia
  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds
  • Keep your cutting boards, utensils and dishes clean, using soap and hot water for each washing
  • Clean your cutting boards, utensils and dishes before preparing food or moving another food item onto these surfaces or utensils
  • Always wash your fruits and vegetables well before eating them, even when you plan to peel skin
  • Keep and prepare raw foods away from other foods
  • Do not eat raw foods, such as eggs or cookie dough
  • Separate raw meat, poultry and fish from other foods in your grocery cart
  • Bag raw food groceries separately from other foods
  • Keep raw foods separated from other foods in your refrigerator and do not allow fluids to drip or spatter onto other foods
  • Cook all foods to the proper temperatures using a food thermometer
  • Use food thermometer readings to gauge internal temperature of your cooked foods, measuring at the thickest part of your food
  • Cook meats, poultry, fish, eggs and casseroles to the proper internal temperature, also using a food thermometer

Foods to Avoid during Cancer Treatment

There are also foods you should avoid whenever you can during your cancer treatment. These have a higher risk of becoming tainted by bacteria and food-borne illness. Foods to avoid include:

  • Unwashed fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly lettuce or greens that can hide contaminants
  • Raw alfalfa sprouts or other sprouts
  • Raw or undercooked ground beef, red meat, pork, fish or poultry
  • Cold cuts, including hot dogs, that have not been cooked – reheat them until they steam for your safety
  • Refrigerated pâté
  • Shellfish, such as oysters, sashimi or sushi, that is served raw or undercooked
  • Smoked fish
  • Mercury-containing fish, both raw and cooked
  • Unpasteurized fruit juice, milk, yogurt or cider
  • Soft, unpasteurized milk cheese, such as blue-veined blue cheese, Brie, Camembert, feta, goat cheese, queso fresco or queso blanco
  • Soft boiled, over easy, poached eggs or unpasteurized eggs
  • Foods made with raw eggs, such as raw cookie dough or homemade mayonnaise
  • Deli prepared egg salad, ham salad, chicken salad or seafood salad

During Cancer Treatment, Safe Nutrition Is Important

It is critical that cancer and cancer treatment-related eating is safe and healthy. The same is true for side effects affecting your eating or weight. Talk to your healthcare professionals for more guidance about healthy eating during cancer treatment.

Arizona Center for Cancer Care provides more than 35 offices and 55 physicians across Maricopa County for your cancer treatment. Whether you live in the Northeast Valley, Southeast Valley or West Valley, you benefit from the best physicians, leading treatment technologies and most up-to-date research in the country, right near your home. Your cancer treatment professionals help you understand your nutritional needs after your cancer diagnosis and during treatment.