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Handling Your Food Safely

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During and after breast cancer treatment, your immune system may be weakened. You want to stay away from bacteria and other organisms that can make you sick. Here are some steps you can take when buying and preparing food to keep your food safe and your body healthy.

Food safety in your home

  • Wash your hands frequently, using warm to hot water (not too hot) and lots of soap. Lather your hands for about 30 seconds before you rinse. Scientists estimate that about half of all food-borne illnesses could be eliminated by proper handwashing. Wash your hands:
    • before and after eating
    • after using the restroom
    • after changing diapers
    • after touching pets
    • after you sneeze or cough
    • after handling raw meat, eggs, poultry, and fish
    • after handling garbage
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, even when you're not going to eat the rind or peel. The knife slicing through the peel can drag contaminants such as bacteria onto the part you're going to eat.
  • Use different knives and cutting boards for meat, produce, and bread. Use different knives and cutting boards for raw and cooked foods.
  • Cook all foods to the proper temperature. For a complete list of proper cooking temperatures for foods, see the United States Department of Agriculture's food safety fact sheet.
  • Don't use foods that are past their expiration dates.
  • Don't leave protein-based foods out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. This includes anything with milk, eggs, mayonnaise, cream, meat, poultry, fish, etc. If protein-based food has been out for more than 2 hours, throw it away.
  • If air builds up under a food container lid or inside plastic food packaging (such as the packaging for hot dogs), throw out the food. This air is gas coming from bacteria growing in the food.
  • Store oils, nuts, and seeds in a cool, dry place. If you live in a hot climate, you may need to keep them in the refrigerator. 

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