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The neutropenic diet

Following a neutropenic diet can help protect you from harmful food bacterias if your immune system is low. Your hospital can also give you guidance for your individual situation.

The aim of a neutropenic diet is to help protect you from bacteria and other harmful organisms found in some food and drinks. Some foods and drink contain infection causing microbes which can be harmful to patients with a low immune system.

Risk foods include:


Other tips…

When doing your food shopping, you should always check and avoid buying food with damaged packaging as this could affect the freshness of the food. Make sure you place chilled and frozen food items away first to ensure they stay cold and fresh for longer.

When storing food, it is important to store cooked food at the top of the fridge and raw food at the bottom to avoid cross-contamination. You should never refreeze thawed food and should defrost food in the bottom of the fridge. Leaving it at room temperature means there is a risk of bacteria growing. You should make sure that you consume food before its use by date to avoid sickness.

When preparing food, you should always wash your hands with warm soapy water as well as after touching any uncooked food, rubbish, pets, dirty washing or after sneezing or using the toilet to avoid the spread of bacteria.

You should have a separate towel for drying your hands and one for drying dishes to avoid any hand bacteria from going onto your clean kitchenware. Make sure you cover any cuts or grazes with plasters or plastic gloves so no bad food bacteria can get into them. Try to avoid cross-contamination by using different coloured chopping boards for raw and cooked foods, and wash utensils between uses, especially if using the same utensils for raw and cooked foods.

When you are cooking you should ensure all food is cooked thoroughly and ensure it is piping hot. When cooking meat, it should be cooked until the juices run clear and especially with chicken there should be no pink meat. Avoid reheating cooked food as it and can cause illness if it has not been reheated correctly. Do not put hot food straight in the fridge as this raises the temperature of all the food in the fridge – you should leave to cool first and then place in the fridge to chill.


Published: Feb 2016

Next planned review: Feb 2018