Preventing Food Borne Illness

After transplant you will be immunosuppressed, which means you immune system is weaker, and there is an increased risk of infection as well as an increased risk of contracting a food borne illness. Food-borne illness, or infections, are often referred to as food poisoning. They result when food is handled improperly or is consumed undercooked or raw. There are many guidelines in place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can help decrease the risk of food-borne illness as well as following general hygiene techniques.


One of the most important causes for food borne illnesses in the home is cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when juices or blood from uncooked meat, poultry, or fish comes into contact with other foods by means of cutting boards, utensils, plates, countertops, or hands. You can avoid cross contamination by making sure you use separate cutting boards, knives, and gloves when you handle meat versus produce.


In terms of actual food, the single most important thing to remember when you eat out is never to eat raw foods of animal origin, such as fish, beef (steak tartar), or seafood. Eating raw oysters, for example, can cause serious problems. Raw oysters can harbor a number of harmful organisms, including a particularly deadly bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus. You also should not eat undercooked foods of animal origin. This means no rare roast beef or undercooked hamburger. Avoid foods that include raw or undercooked eggs, such as Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, some custards, and chocolate mousse. Do not eat soft cheeses and discard moldy foods.


It is best to avoid buffets, delis, and restaurants that leave food sitting out for long periods of time. If food has been sitting out longer than two hours then your child should not consume it as it can start harboring potentially harmful organisms and is no longer safe to consume.


When purchasing food, do not buy foods in damaged containers, such as containers with cracks, dents, or bulging lids. It is also recommended to avoid roadside stands, farmers markets, deli meats, and cooked seafood. You should always check meat, raw fish, and poultry for freshness by reading the ‘sell by’ dates on the packaging.


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Preventing Food Borne Illness