Avoiding food poisoning

Avoid food poisoning after transplant

It is important to be aware that eating well will help you to stay well.  Always be aware of food safety and avoid the risk of food poisoning because taking medication that suppresses your immune system means you may have severe symptoms if you do get food poisoning.

Shopping and packing foods

  • Buy food with the latest ‘use-by’ date and eat it within the expiry date.  Avoid foods in damaged containers.

  • When packing foods after purchase, wrap fresh foods and raw meat separately and place in separate carrier bags.

  • Take chilled or frozen foods home as quickly as possible and store them in the fridge or freezer as soon as you can.

Storing cold foods

  • Don’t keep food in the fridge beyond the ‘use-by’ date and eat it as soon as possible.

  • Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria.  Aim for a fridge with a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius (◦C), using a fridge thermometer to check this.  Defrost your fridge and freezer regularly to ensure efficient cooling.

  • Store foods carefully in the fridge. Raw foods should be stored separately from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination. Store raw meats on the bottom of the fridge in a sealed container to avoid drips into the salad and vegetable box.

  • Cover all unwrapped food.

  • It is best to defrost foods in the fridge. Alternatively, if the food is to be cooked immediately, defrost in the microwave.

  • Cooked food that is not eaten straight away should be cooled as rapidly as possible and then stored in the fridge.  Do not leave it cooling at room temperature for more than an hour.

Food preparation

  • Keep your kitchen clean. Wash your hands before touching food and after handling raw meat.  Wash hands after using the dustbin or going to the toilet. Cover any cuts and grazes.

  • Keep worktops, chopping boards and utensils clean by washing regularly with hot soapy water and antibacterial spray.

  • When preparing foods, wash utensils and worktops between stages.  Avoid cross-contamination by using separate chopping boards and knives for raw meat and cooked foods and fresh vegetables.

  • Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.  Even ready-washed salads and vegetables must be washed again carefully before eating.

  • Do not use dishcloths. Keep all tea towels and brushes clean, changing them regularly. Any washing up brushes or scourers should be disinfected in a chlorine based disinfectant solution.

Cooking and re-heating foods

  • Foods may only be reheated once.  Food must be reheated right through until piping hot. Throw away left over re-heated foods.

  • If using a microwave oven to cook or re-heat foods, observe the correct standing time to ensure that the food is at an even temperature before it is eaten.

  • Cook all meat thoroughly. If possible use a meat thermometer to check it is uniformly above 75 degrees Celsius (◦C).

High risk foods to avoid

High risk foods may contain salmonella or listeria. Eating any of the foods in the following list may put you at increased risk of suffering from food poisoning:

  • Avoid raw eggs and homemade dishes made with uncooked eggs such as mayonnaise, mousse, ice-cream, raw eggs in drinks, custard and confectioner’s custard in fruit tarts and pies.  Food made with pasteurised eggs is safe for consumption, for example bottled salad dressings, which are heat treated and sold in a sealed container.

  • Avoid soft-boiled eggs; only eat eggs that are thoroughly cooked until the white and yolks are solid.

  • Avoid all cheeses produced from unpasteurised milk such as goat’s cheese, feta, mascarpone, and unpasteurised brie and camembert (check the label). Blue veined cheeses should also be avoided.

  • Foods containing live bacteria such as milk puddings, yoghurt and yoghurt drinks may be harmful.

  • Raw or partially cooked meats, poultry and fish like smoked salmon, sushi and partially cooked steaks.  Meats that have only been smoked rather than cooked should also be avoided.

  • Pate should never be on your shopping list.

  •  Don’t eat shellfish like shrimps, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels and scallops.

  • Raw fruit and vegetables and ready to eat salads are high-risk and should be washed thoroughly.

  • If you use high risk foods such as cook-chill meals and ready-to-eat poultry, heat them until the food is too hot to touch.

  • In the UK it is safer to drink chlorinated tap water, rather than bottled water. If travelling abroad discuss this with your transplant nurse.


Household pets are a source of bacteria and infection. Keep them out of the kitchen and never allow them near foods or on worktops.

  • Prepare your animal’s food on a surface and with utensils specially kept for this purpose. Never use the utensils or the work surface for preparing food for human consumption.

  • Do not let pets sleep on beds or furniture.

  • When gardening avoid contact with animal faeces. Always wear protective gloves, wash hands thoroughly after finishing gardening and wear gloves when handling litter trays.

  • Wash hands after petting animals especially if about to prepare food.

  • De-worm cats and dogs regularly.

  • Seek urgent medical advice if bitten or scratched by a cat or dog.

If you have any further questions contact the nutrition and dietetic department on 01895 828501.

If you feel you have an infection caused by eating contaminated food, contact transplant outpatients on 01895 828663 for further advice.

If you think the incident was related to a particular food stuff, shop or food establishment, contact the Environmental Health Office at your local council.