FOOD SAFETY FOR CANCER PATIENTS
The focal point of your diet should revolve around fruits and vegetables, pulses, beans, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat dairy to improve your body’s strength and immune system. If your dietary plan checks all these boxes, focus should then be turned to ensuring that the food safety steps taken do indeed meet all the recommended guidelines as well. It is essential to adhere to the recommended food safety guidelines when preparing food for cancer patients. Preparation and storage of food varies in relation to the type of cancer you bear, its treatment and your immune system’s ability to fight off bacteria and other viruses present in food. Here are some food safety steps which, with proper implementation, ensure that you protect your body from any foodborne illnesses.
To prevent cancer from spreading, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water, before and after cooking or eating. This is the most important step in food safety. Wash your hands also after touching food or pets, handling garbage, dressing wounds, using the washroom and after handling dirty or unhygienic items.
Wash all the vegetables and fruits under running water and rinse them thoroughly to remove dirt. Thick-skinned fruits that are peeled before eating should be washed to avoid bacteria from entering the fruits while cutting, and to prevent the spread of unwanted diseases. Clean your kitchen platform, utensils, chopping boards, cutleries and other related tools with clean towels or paper towels. Wash the utensils and cutleries again thoroughly when switching between different foods.
Ensuring Safe Storage of Foods and Preparation Tools
Store used kitchen tools and cutting boards separately for different foods to avoid contamination. Foods like raw meat, poultry and fish need to be kept separately as well. If they come in contact with each other, they could get contaminated and spoil easily. Prevent this by refrigerating all fresh meats in individual bags till their time of use.
Store dry, packaged or canned foods in a suitable storage area with temperatures between 40ºF and 140ºF to prevent food spoilage. Freeze the foods that require cold temperatures for storage. Store your fully cooked meals in the refrigerator and consume within 2 hours of preparation at the most. Avoid eating leftovers.
The Right Way to Prepare and Consume Meals
It is vital for cancer patients to consume of fully-cooked meals during the cancer treatment process. Avoid raw meals like sushi, or undercooked foods like eggs in mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce. Avoid consumption of processed foods which have broken seals or foods in dented cans. Defrost and thaw frozen foods thoroughly before cooking and also be sure to use a food thermometer to cook your meats to its required temperature. Never rely on the texture or colour of the meat when determining if it has been fully cooked.
Maintaining General Food Safety Standards
Avoid products such as unpasteurised milk, eggnog, juices, ciders and cheese. Double-check the expiry date on the labels of food packaging, both before purchase and before consumption. Serve cooked food on clean dishes and avoid reusing dishes which were previously used to hold raw meat. Only reuse the dishes after washing them thoroughly with dish soap.
Apart from these guidelines, you should also speak to a healthcare professional to help you make informed decisions with regards to food consumption. Based on your treatment schedule and tolerance towards the treatment, they would be able to help you determine which plan would work best for you, whilst keeping the necessary food safety measures in mind.