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Safe Food Handling with a Weakened Immune System

Safe Food Handling with a Weakened Immune System

Cancer and cancer treatments can weaken your immune system making it harder to fight infections.   With a weakened immune system you are more likely to get sick or get food poisoning, therefore it is important to take special care in handling and preparing foods. 

Tips for Safe Food Handling At Home

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food. Wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep raw meats and seafood separate from uncooked food items like produce.  Use a separate cutting board to prepare. 
  • Use a thermometer to ensure that meats have reached the recommended safe internal cooking temperatures.  Use the chart below for reference.

Safe Minimal Internal Temperatures

(Temperatures Taken Using a Meat Thermometer)

Beef, pork, veal, & lamb

63°C / 145°F within a 3 minute “rest-time” after being removed from heat

Ground meats

70°C / 160°F

Poultry (whole poultry, pieces, or ground)

74°C / 165°F

Eggs and eggs dishes

70°C / 160°F, firm white and yolk 

Leftovers, casseroles, & hotdogs

74°C / 165°F

Fish

63°C / 145°F

Shrimp, lobster, & crab

Flesh pearly & opaque

Clams, oysters, & muscles

Shells open during cooking

Scallops

Milk white, opaque and firm

 

  • Avoid raw or undercooked fish, seafood, meat and eggs including sushi, oysters, cookie dough, or steak tartare.
  • Hot dogs, deli meats and luncheon meats should be heated to steaming hot. 
  • Wash fruits and vegetables under cold running water even those with skins and rinds that are not eaten and pre-packaged items labeled “pre-washed”.  Use a vegetable scrub brush as needed for hard produce. 
  • Avoid raw milk and cheese and consume only pasteurized dairy products.
  • Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible and eat within 72 hours.  Heat leftovers to the proper internal temperature.
  • Throw out any packaged or fresh foods that have passed their expiration date.

Making Safe Food Choices When Eating Out

  • Order foods freshly made to order.
  • Avoid self-service dining areas such as salad bars and buffets, where more hands have touched the foods.
  • Ask for eggs, meat, poultry and fish to be cooked to safe minimum internal temperature or order well-done.
  • Avoid shared open containers like dressing and condiments.
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