SILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- February 4, 2016, is World Cancer Day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminds cancer patients and survivors (and those preparing food for them) about the importance of safe food handling in preventing foodborne illness.
Learn about safe selection and preparation of foods for people with cancer in the free booklet Food Safety for People with Cancer:
- Download at http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/PeopleAtRisk/ucm312565.htm
- Order a copy by calling 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Treatment of cancer typically involves chemotherapy, radiation, and/or medications. A side effect of these therapies as well as the chronic disease process may weaken patients' immune systems, making them susceptible to foodborne illness (often called "food poisoning"). If a person with cancer contracts a foodborne illness, he or she is also more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die. This increased risk underscores the critical role safe food handling plays in managing this chronic disease.
Make Wise Food Choices
Some foods are more risky for people with cancer because they are more likely to contain harmful bacteria or viruses. In general, these foods fall into two categories:
- Uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Certain animal products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk; soft cheeses made with raw milk; and raw or undercooked eggs, raw meat, raw poultry, raw fish, raw shellfish and their juices; luncheon meats and deli-type salads (without added preservatives) prepared on site in a deli-type establishment.
Follow the Four Steps to Food Safety
Anyone who has cancer or who prepares food for a person with cancer should also follow these steps:
- CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.
- SEPARATE: Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
- COOK to the right temperatures. Use a food thermometer to ensure meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria. Refer to the chart at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/UCM462491.pdf
- CHILL foods promptly. Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees F or below and the freezer temperature is 0 degrees F or below.
Know the Symptoms
Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Symptoms of foodborne illness include: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms (such as fever, headache, and body ache).
If you think that you or a family member has a foodborne illness, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Also, report the suspected foodborne illness to FDA in either of these ways:
- Contact the Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area. Locate one at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators
- Contact MedWatch, FDA's Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
- By Phone: 1-800-FDA-1088
- Online: http://www.fda.gov/medwatch
Contact: Media: 1-301-796-4540 Consumers: 1-888-SAFEFOOD (toll free)
SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration