CanHOPE is a non-profit cancer counselling and support service provided by Parkway Cancer Centre, Singapore.


Food Safety – Eating in

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During cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy and radiation therapy, patient’s immune system is often compromised, making it more susceptible to food borne illnesses. It is important for patients to observe food safety practices. Food safety practices are basically steps and measures taken during the handling, preparing and storage of food to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses. This leaflet includes useful tips and guidelines that will help patients and caregivers in preparing food when eating in. It is advisable to select a food that poses a lower risk of food borne illnesses to prevent infections and further complications during cancer treatment.

Handling & Preparation of Cutting Boards, Equipment & Utensils

  • Clean counters, cutting boards & equipment with hot, soapy water before any food preparation
  • Use different cutting boards for raw & cooked foods
  • Use nonporous cutting boards (e.g. plastic, marble or ceramics)
  • Replace worn out cutting boards that have cracks or dents
  • Dry all equipment & utensils with clean paper towel or airdry them
  • Keep refrigerator temperature between 0 - 4°C & freezer temperature no higher than -18°C

Handling & Preparation of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

  • Use a clean vegetable scrubber to scrub fruits and vegetables that have a thick, rough skin or rind
  • Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water before peeling or cutting
  • Wash only the portion of fruits and vegetables required and wrap unused portion in a cling wrap and return them to fridge immediately

Checking On Doneness Of Fresh Meat, Poultry & Fish

  • Make sure meat is fully cooked
  • Check that there is no pink meat and the juices run clear when sliced
  • Check that fish should be opaque and flakes easily

Handling of Frozen food

  • Thaw in the refrigerator instead of counter tops
  • Thaw meat, fish and poultry in the refrigerator away from raw fruits and vegetables and other prepared foods
  • Place in a dish to catch drips
  • Use thawed food right away

When Holding Food

  • Never leave dairy products out of the refrigerator
  • Serve food immediately after cooking & consume within 2 hours
  • Refrigerate all food within 2 hours of cooking if not consumed
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold
  • Marinated food should be placed in refrigerator before cooking

Storage of Food

  • Store fresh vegetables and fruits separately from fish, raw meat and poultry
  • Store raw meat, poultry and fish below other food
  • Store perishable foods in the refrigerator within 2 hours of purchase (e.g. raw meat, milk)
  • Label the food bought to keep track of their shelf-life
  • Store according to storage instructions
  • Do not wash eggs before storage
  • Store eggs away from ready-to-eat food

Storage & Handling of Leftovers

  • Always try to cook just enough for the current meal
  • Allow leftovers to be cooled before placing into refrigerator
  • Once cooled, use containers that seal tightly and refrigerate immediately
  • Label the dates on the container to keep track of their freshness
  • Do not eat leftovers that are kept for more than 24 hours
  • Reheat all leftovers to 75°C and above or until boiling

AllowedNot Allowed
Bread, Grain, Rice, Pasta, Noodles
  • All commercially-packaged or freshly-packed bread, buns, pancakes, waffles
  • All freshly-cooked pasta, rice, noodles & other grains
  • Open-shelf/exposed items eg. bread, buns, pancakes, waffles
  • Food that contain any raw and uncooked grain
  • Thick-skinned vegetables that has been thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed (e.g. bitter gourd, potatoes)
  • Leafy vegetables that has been thoroughly rinsed (e.g. lettuce, spinach, cabbage)
  • All well-cooked frozen, canned or fresh vegetables
  • Pasteurized vegetable juices
  • Raw vegetable sprouts (e.g. alfalfa sprouts, clover sprouts)
  • RSlimy, mouldy, bruised or damaged vegetables
  • RUnwashed vegetables
  • RUnpasteurized vegetable juices
  • Thick-skinned fruits that has been thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed (e.g. rambutan, dragon fruit, orange)
  • Thin-skinned fruits (e.g. strawberry, blueberry, grape) that has been washed well under running water
  • Canned, frozen & pasteurized fruit juices
  • Commercially-packaged dried fruits
  • Unwashed raw fruits
  • Unpasteurized fruit juices
  • Slimy or mouldy, bruised or damaged fruits
  • All pasteurized milk & milk products (e.g. ice cream, yogurt)
  • Commercially-packaged cheese & cheese products
  • Commercially-packaged powdered milk
  • Unpasteurized or raw milk, cheese, yogurt, & other milk products
  • Cheeses containing chili peppers and other uncooked vegetables
  • Fermented Cheese (e.g. blue cheese, feta cheese)
Meat, Fish, Seafood, Poultry, Eggs, Nuts & Legumes
  • All well-cooked meats
  • Well-cooked tofu
  • Well-cooked fish, poultry and seafood (e.g. prawns, crabs)
  • Well-cooked eggs (e.g. hard boiled)
  • Pasteurized egg substitutes (e.g. egg beaters)
  • Commercially-packaged nuts and spread (eg. peanut butter)
  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, tofu, tempeh (e.g. sashimi)
  • Meats & cold cuts (e.g. ham, smoked salmon)
  • Hard cured salami in natural wrap
  • Uncooked or partially cooked eggs (e.g. half boiled)
  • Other shellfish (eg. clams, cockles)
  • Unroasted raw nuts
  • Commercially bottled, canned beverages
  • Commercially-packaged powdered beverages
  • Freshly brewed coffee and tea
  • Commercial nutritional supplements
  • Iced teas brewed with warm or cold water (e.g. sun tea)
  • Pre-prepared beverages (e.g. Bandung, syrups-based beverages)
  • All commercially-packaged confectionaries (e.g. ice-cream, cakes, kuehs, pies, pastries, pudding)
  • All open-shelf/exposed confectionaries (e.g. ice-cream, cakes, kuehs, pies, pastries, pudding)
  • Commercially-packaged butter, lard, ghee, vegetable shortenings
  • Commercially-packaged mayonnaise & salad dressings
  • Freshly cooked gravy & sauces
  • Used oil, dressings, sauces and spreads
  • Pre-prepared gravy and sauces
  • Granulated sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar
  • Jam, jelly, syrups, pasteurized honey (refrigerated after opening)
  • Salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices
  • Tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, pickles, olives, and others (refrigerated after opening)
  • Commercially-packaged frozen entrees (e.g. pizza, ravioli, lasagna)
  • Raw or Unpasteurized honey or sugar
  • Brewers yeast, if eaten uncooked
  • Delicatessen entrees e.g., pizza, macaroni and cheese