Food safety during cancer treatment

Chemotherapy weakens the immune system and the ability of the body to make infection fighting white blood cells. Avoid infections and food borne illness by using these safety measures.

Food safety tips for cancer treatment

  • Wash hands with soap for 20 seconds and rinse well before preparing food.
  • Clean counters and cooking utensils with hot soapy water before working with food.
  • Wash all raw fruits and vegetables very well. Avoid berries and fuzzy fruits that cannot be easily washed.
  • Avoid lettuce, sprouts, and damaged or unwashed produce.
  • Wash melons thoroughly before cutting.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator. Plan ahead to allow adequate time for thawing.
  • Thaw meat in a container to avoid meat dripping onto other foods.
  • Wash hands, utensils, plates, and counter tops after contact with raw meat or poultry.
  • Do not serve cooked meat/poultry on the same plate that held the raw meat or poultry.
  • Use only pasteurized juice, cider, milk, and cheese.
  • Do not eat blue cheese, moldy, or imported cheese.
  • Wash tops of cans with soap and water before opening the can.
  • Cook eggs until both white and yolk is solid.
  • Avoid black pepper, herbs and spices unless placed in the dish before cooking.
  • Avoid “spring” or “natural” water.
  • Avoid buffets and salad bars.
  • Do not taste free food samples.
  • Replace dishcloth and towel daily.
  • Do not use a sponge in the kitchen.
  • Use paper towels to dry hands.
  • Check with the doctor before eating raw fruits and vegetables after receiving large doses of chemotherapy
Last reviewed: 
April 2018

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