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Food Safety

It is important to closely monitor what your child consumes since their immune system is now compromised. Children with weakened immune systems are at increased risk for infections. The risks can be controlled by making sure your child follows simple food safety procedures.

First and foremost, make sure your child sanitizes his or her hands before eating any type of food. Ideally, this would be washing hands with soap and water, but in the absence, the use of a hand sanitizer will suffice. In the event that you are eating outside of the home, make sure you always carry sanitizing wipes with you so that you can wipe down tables and chairs even though the restaurant or location you are eating at may wipe down the tables themselves. It is always better to cleanse the table and chairs that you and your child will be using to ensure it is properly sanitized.

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. (12)

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’ date on the packaging.

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