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Published on October 14, 2013

Common Sense Food Safety

October 14, 2013

leftovers in containerIt is important to follow food-safety practices all the time, however, many people haven’t reconsidered some of their every day habits that could increase their risk of contracting an infection. While you are receiving cancer treatment, be sure to pause to make sensible choices.

It is repeated over and over: wash your hands! However, many patients eat foods with their bare hands that have not been washed. Consider all the surfaces your hands touch. Regular and frequent hand washing with soap and water is vital before and after you handle food. 

Hot foods should be eaten hot (>140°F). Cold foods should be eaten cold (<40°F). Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours after a meal. With that said, don’t save potentially hazardous foods to be eaten later, if you can’t keep them in the proper temperature range. Many people don’t think tucking the left over ½ turkey sandwich in their bag to be eaten after their errands will be cause any problem. Think again.

Soft cooked eggs and rare cooked burgers seem to be favorites of many, however, runny yolks and bloody juices indicate that the temperature was not high enough to kill potential bacteria. Don’t eat raw or undercooked protein foods.

Wash your fresh produce well with plenty of water. Peel as necessary.  Choose produce that is bruise-free. 

Some people enjoy single-serving bottled beverages. If you are going drink directly from the container, make sure you have washed the outside surface. Dirty hands may have stocked that vending machine or convenience store shelf.

Don’t take a chance with leftovers that are more than 24 hours old. Throw them out.

Self-serve salad bars and buffets can pose higher risks, since there is no way to control how customers handle the available foods. Are utensils laying in the food? Are people picking foods with their fingers? 

Designate non-wood cutting boards specifically for cutting raw and cooked meats, fish, and poultry. These should be sanitized in the dishwasher afterward each use. 

Don’t consume packaged foods that are beyond the BEST BY or USE BY date. 

At times, people who have impaired immune systems may follow even more strict guidelines. These common sense tips are simple, everyday considerations for anyone, all the time.


Becky Sisler
KishHealth System Cancer Center registered dietitian

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