Food Safety for the Immunocompromised Patient
When your immune system is weak you are at greater risk of getting sick from foods with bacteria,
viruses, and mold. This food safety guide will help you avoid foodborne illnesses.
Below is a guide as to how long you may need to follow these guidelines:
ξ Allogeneic stem cell transplant: follow this guide during pre-transplant chemotherapy
and until you are no longer taking immunosuppressive drugs
ξ Autologous stem cell transplant: follow this guide during pre-transplant chemotherapy
and for the first 3 months after transplant
ξ If you are immunocompromised, but did not have a stem cell transplant follow this guide
until you are no longer considered immunocompromised
Types of Food High Risk Foods to Avoid
Meats, Poultry and
ξ Raw, dehydrated, or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or shellfish
ξ Refrigerated smoked fish
Milk ξ Unpasteurized (raw) milk
ξ Kefir and yogurt are safe to eat, even with live cultures
Eggs ξ Foods with raw or undercooked eggs like homemade Caesar salad
dressing, homemade raw cookie dough, and homemade eggnog
Fruits/Vegetables ξ Unwashed fruits and vegetables
ξ Fresh produce that cannot be cleaned well like strawberries, blueberries,
grapes, blackberries and raspberries
ξ Non-pasteurized fruit and vegetable juice
ξ Raw sprouts (alfalfa, bean or other sprouts)
ξ Fresh mushrooms
ξ Packaged, frozen fruits and vegetables are safe to eat
Cheese ξ Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized (raw) milk like brie, camembert,
blue-veined, and queso fresco
ξ These cheeses are safe to eat if cooked
Hot Dogs and Deli
ξ Hot dogs, deli meats, and luncheon meats that have not been reheated to
steaming hot or 165°F
Other ξ Unpasteurized pâtés or meat spreads
ξ Raw honey
Drinks/Water ξ Sun tea
ξ Well water
ξ Water from lakes, rivers, streams, or springs
ξ Avoid well water. No matter how often well water is tested, you can’t be sure it will stay
ξ Tap water is water from your faucet. If the water source is a city water supply or a
municipal well it is disinfected and considered safe in most cases. If you have questions
about the safety of your water, check with your local health department and water utility.
ξ Bottled water is best. Choose water that has one of these statements on the label: reverse
osmosis, distillation/distilled or filtered through an absolute 1 micron or smaller filter.
General Food Safety Guidelines
ξ Wash hands, utensils and work surfaces often
ξ Separate raw meats, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping
cart, grocery bag, and refrigerator
ξ Thaw meat, fish, and poultry in the refrigerator or microwave – not on the counter
ξ Cook foods to the right temperature. Refer to the table below.
ξ Chill raw meat/poultry and cooked leftovers within 2 hours. Your refrigerator should be
kept at 40°F or below.
ξ Avoid foods from delis, buffets, salad bars, and bulk food bins. Avoid free food samples
ξ Do not buy opened or damaged packages, expired foods, or cans that are rusted, bulging
ξ Select fruits and vegetables that look and smell fresh and are free of bruises, damaged
skins, and mold
ξ Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before peeling or cutting. To clean, run under cool
water or soak in a basin of water for 1-2 minutes and drain. Do not use soaps, bleach or
detergents on produce.
USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
Beef, Pork, Veal,
Fish Ground Beef, Veal,
Whole, Pieces, and Ground Turkey,
145°F with a 3
minute rest time
145°F 160°F 160°F 165°F
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone number listed below.
You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500. Nutrition clinics for UW Medical
Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #483.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 6/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the
Department of Nursing. HF#476