Neutropenia - food safety advice

Neutropenia - food safety advice

Children who are neutropaenic are at risk of infection including the food related illness gastroenteritis. Tips on keeping food safe to eat and foods to avoid.

How to keep food safe to eat

Children who are neutropenic are at risk of infection including the food related illness gastroenteritis.

To keep food safe to eat:

  • always wash your hands before preparing food; read about hand washing in Hand washing and hygiene
  • use clean knives, chopping boards and bench tops when preparing food. Store cooked food above raw food in the fridge and keep it covered
  • cook and reheat food until it is piping hot especially when using a microwave oven
  • check the use-by date on prepared foods
  • wash raw fruit and vegetables under running water

For more information see the People with low Immunity page on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

Which foods to avoid

The following foods could be unsafe to eat and should not be given to a neutropenic child:

  • chilled or pre-cooked seafood products such as prawns, mussels, fish unless they are reheated to piping hot and eaten while they are hot
  • pre-cooked meat products such as pate, pre-cooked chicken and ham
  • raw seafood and raw fish
  • raw and undercooked eggs and egg dishes
  • shop-prepared salads and coleslaws
  • un-pasteurised milk or milk products such as cheese made with un-pasteurised milk - read the label for this information

Eating out can be risky because food in a restaurant may have been cooked earlier. Food that is cooked 'while you wait' is safe to eat. Do not ever eat chicken from a takeaway.

Where to go for information and support

On this website:
Nutrition and childhood cancer
Childhood cancer: Where to go for more information and support

All the information in the Childhood cancer section of this website has been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the National Child Cancer Network Clinical Leader.

This page last reviewed 22 June 2013.
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