FOOD SAFETY FOR CANCER PATIENTS
A cancer-fighting diet is as equally essential as food safety for cancer patients. Cancer fighting foods that should be included in your diet varies in preparation and storage methods based on the type of cancer you have, its treatment and the ability of your immune system to fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses present in food. Combining the right safety steps in food preparation with a cancer-fighting diet will help strengthen your body and protect it from food-borne illnesses during your battle against cancer. A cancer-fighting diet should primarily consist of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, pulses, beans, lean meat, and low-fat dairy. Now that you’re well informed on the consumption of food while fighting cancer, here are some easy-to-follow food safety measures that should be implemented as well.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after cooking or eating. Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly also before and after handling foods, touching pets, handling garbage and using the washroom.
- Wash all vegetables and fruits under running water and rinse them thoroughly to remove any form of dirt. Thick-skinned fruits that are peeled before eating should be washed to avoid bacteria from entering the fruits while cutting.
- Clean your kitchen platform, utensils, cutleries, chopping boards and other related tools with clean paper towels. Wash all utensils and cutleries while switching between different foods.
- Foods such as raw meat, poultry and fish should be refrigerated separately in individual bags before their time of use. This is to ensure that the foods do not come into contact with each other, resulting in contamination.
- Store dry, packaged or canned foods in a suitable storage area with temperatures between 40ºF and 140ºF.
- Use separate cutleries and cutting boards for meats, fish and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.
- Avoid eating leftovers. Store fully-cooked meals in your refrigerator and eat them within 2 hours of being cooked.
- Choose freshly-cooked or made-to-order meals over self-serve buffets and processed foods.
- Immediately refrigerate or freeze foods that require cold temperatures.
- Frozen or refrigerated foods should be allowed to defrost and thaw properly before cooking.
- Always eat fully-cooked meals. Cancer-fighting foods such as broccoli, potatoes, red beans, turmeric and avocadoes can be included as part of your diet as well. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meals such as sushi, or eggs in mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce.
- Avoid consuming foods in dented cans or packaged food with broken seals.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to its required temperature, especially when cooking meats. Do not rely on the colour or texture of the meat to ascertain if it is fully cooked.
D. General Food Safety
- Avoid products such as unpasteurised milk, eggnog, juices, ciders and cheese.
- Avoid consuming vegetables that should be eaten raw.
- Serve cooked food on clean dishes and avoid reusing dishes which have previously held raw meat. Only reuse the dishes after washing them thoroughly with dish soap under running water.
- Double-check the expiry date on food packaging labels, both before purchase, and before consumption.
Apart from the guidelines mentioned above, you should also speak to your healthcare professional about proper food consumption for cancer patients. Based on your treatment schedule and tolerance towards the treatment, they would be able to help you decide on which cancer-fighting diet plan would work best for you, whilst keeping all the necessary food safety measures in mind.