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Eating Out When You Have a Weakened Immune System

November 14, 2016

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By Vicki Vann | Patient Education Specialist 

While it's fun to eat out with friends and family during the holiday season, it's important to keep in mind that you may need to protect yourself from harmful bacteria if your immune system is decreased. Please review the following guidelines to keep you healthy this holiday season:

  1. Avoid raw or undercooked meat. Meat from restaurants should be ordered well-done.
  2. Avoid raw or undercooked fish and shellfish.
  3. Order your eggs well cooked when dining out.
  4. Self-serve dispensers in restaurants (ketchup, mustard, ice cream) including condiment bottles on tables, can harbor bacteria if not changed and cleaned often.
  5. Avoid any under-cooked foods. Return to the server and ask for another dish.
  6. Observe wait staff to ensure they are not touching food or utensils with bare hands.
  7. If dining at salad bars or buffets, wash hands after touching serving utensils and before eating.
  8. Always use good judgement. If the restaurant looks dirty, it is!
  9. When eating shared finger foods (chips, pretzels, appetizers), put your portion on a separate plate and do not eat from the group food item.

A decreased immune system does not mean you have to avoid restaurants altogether (check with your doctor first). With a little awareness, you can keep yourself healthy during this holiday season and still enjoy dining out!