Unsure how and what to eat? Here are some easy-to-implement food safety tips.

Food safety is essential for everyone, but it is especially important if you are fighting cancer. Preparation and storage will vary according 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. Strictly following all the right steps in food safety ensures that your body is protected from foodborne illnesses.

11 Oct 2019
A diet for cancer patients should consist of a meal plan rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pulses, beans, lean meat and low-fat dairy to preserve your body’s strength and immune system against the demands of cancer treatment. If you’re consuming a diet that checks all these boxes, focus should then shift towards ensuring the right food safety steps are taken as well.

Cleanliness and the Importance of Hygienic Practices
Wash your hands with soap under running water before and after you cook or eat. This is the first and most important step in food safety. Wash your hands thoroughly also before and after handling food, touching pets, handling garbage, dressing wounds, and using the washroom. Wash and rinse all fruits and vegetables under running water to remove excess dirt. Even fruits such as melons, oranges, and other thick-skinned fruits that need to be peeled before eating should be washed to avoid bacteria from entering the fruit while cutting.

Clean your kitchen platform, utensils, chopping boards, cutleries and other related tools with clean towels or paper towels. Wash the utensils and cutleries again when switching between different foods.

Ensuring Proper Storage and Serving of Food
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. If you do not plan on consuming a fully-cooked meal immediately, store it in the refrigerator and consume within 2 hours after preparation. Avoid consuming leftovers and remember to immediately refrigerate or freeze foods that require cold temperatures.

The Right Preparation and Consumption of Meals
Defrost and thaw frozen or refrigerated foods properly before cooking. Always eat fully-cooked meals. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meals such as sushi, or eggs in mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce and Caesar salad dressing. Avoid consuming food in dented cans or packaged food with broken seals.

Use a food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to its required temperature, particularly when cooking meats. Never rely on the colour or texture of the meat to determine if it is fully cooked. When eating out, choose made-to-order and freshly cooked meals over delis and self-serve buffet restaurants.

General Food Safety
Avoid products such as unpasteurised milk, eggnog, juices, ciders and cheese. Also, avoid consuming vegetables and fibres 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. Be sure to double-check the expiry date on food packaging labels, both before purchase and consumption.

Apart from these guidelines, you should also speak to your healthcare professional to help you make informed decisions regarding food preparation. Based on your treatment schedule and tolerance towards the treatment, they would be best suited to help you decide on which diet plan would work best for you, whilst keeping all the necessary food safety measures in mind.