Food Safety for People with Diabetes , A need-to-know guide for those who have been diagnosed with diabetes
A need-to-know guide for those who have been diagnosed with diabetes
Food safety is important for everyone — but it’s especially important for you. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has prepared this booklet. It’s designed to provide practical guidance on how to reduce your risk of foodborne illness. In addition to this practical guidance, we encourage you to check with your physician or health care provider to identify foods and other products that you should avoid. You have a special need for this important information . . so read on!
Foodborne Illness in the United States
When certain disease-causing bacteria or pathogens contaminate food,
they can cause foodborne illness. Foodborne illness, often calledfood
poisoning , is an illness that comes from a food you eat.
The food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world but it can still be a source of infection for all persons.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 million persons get sick, 325,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from foodborne infection and illness in the United States each year.Many of these people are very young, very old, or have weakened immune systems and may not be able to fight infection normally.
Since foodborne illness can be serious — or even fatal — it is important for you to know and practice safe food-handling behaviors to help reduce your risk of getting sick from contaminated food.
It’s Especially Important for You
As a person with diabetes, you are not alone – there are many people in the United States with this chronic disease. Diabetes can affect various organs and systems of your body, causing them not to function properly,
and making you more susceptible to infection. For example:
Your immune system, when functioning properly, readily fights off harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infection. With diabetes, your immune system may not readily recognize harmful bacteria or other pathogens. This delay in the body’s natural response to foreign invasion places a person with diabetes at increased risk for infection.
Your gastrointestinal tract, when functioning properly, allows the foods and beverages you consume to be digested normally. Diabetes may damage the cells that create stomach acid and the nerves that help your stomach and intestinal tract move the food throughout the intestinal tract. Because of this damage, your stomach may hold on to the food and beverages you consume for a longer period of time, allowing harmful bacteria and other pathogens to grow.
Additionally, your kidneys, which work to cleanse the body, may not be functioning properly and may hold on to harmful bacteria, toxins, and other pathogens.
A consequence of having diabetes is that it may leave you more susceptible to developing infections – like those that can be brought on by disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens that cause foodborne illness. Should you contract a foodborne illness, you are more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die. To avoid contracting a foodborne illness, you must be vigilant when handling, preparing, and consuming foods.
Eating at Home: Making Wise Food Choices
Some foods are more risky for you than others. In general, the foods that are most likely to contain pathogens fall into two categories:
Uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables
Animal products , such as unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, raw eggs, raw meat, raw poultry, raw fish, raw seafood and their juices Interestingly, the risk these foods may actually pose depends on its origin or source and how it is processed, stored, and prepared .
Follow these guidelines (see chart at right) for safe selection and preparation of your favorite foods.
If You Have Questions . . . . . . about Wise Food Choices:
Be sure to consult with your doctor or health care provider. He or she can answer any specific questions or help you in your choices. . . . about Particular Foods:
If you aren’t sure about the safety of a food in your refrigerator, don’t take the risk. When in doubt, throw it out!
Four Basic Steps to Food Safety
1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often
Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.
2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate
Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are spread from one food product to another. This is especially common when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. The key is to keep these foods — and their juices — away from ready-to-eat foods.
3. Cook: Cook to proper temperatures
Foods are safely cooked when they are heated to the USDA-recommended safe minimum internal temperatures, as shown on the “Is It Done Yet?” char
4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly
Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk of foodborne illness. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is consistently 40 °F or below and the freezer temperature is 0 °F or below.
Foodborne Illness Action Plan
If you suspect you have a foodborne illness,follow these general guidelines:
1. Consult your physician or health care provider, or seek medical treatment as appropriate.As a person with diabetes, you are at increased risk for severe infection.
- Contact your physician immediately if you develop symptoms or think you may be at risk.
- If you develop signs of infection as discussed with your physician, seek out medical advice and/or treatment immediately.
2. Preserve the food.
- If a portion of the suspect food is available, wrap it securely, label it to say “DANGER,” and freeze it.
- The remaining food may be used in diagnosing your illness and in preventing others from becoming ill.
3. Save all the packaging materials, such as cans or cartons.
- Write down the food type, the date and time consumed, and when the onset of symptoms occurred.
- Save any identical unopened products.
- Report the contaminated food to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). The toll-free number for the hearing impaired (TTY) is 1-800-256-7072.
4. Call your local health department . . . . . . if you believe you became ill from food you ate in a restaurant or other food establishment.
- The health department staff will be able to assist you in determining whether any further investigation is warranted.