Food Safety For Diabetics

Marshalee Valentine

Thursday, August 08, 2019

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In previous articles we highlighted the fact that individuals under the age of six who suffer from chronic illnesses and those over the age of 60 are more susceptible to food-borne illnesses due to a weakened immune system. Diabetes is one such chronic illness that may affect the ability of your organs to function efficiently and, as such, making you more susceptible to food-borne illnesses. These illnesses may come from consuming food contaminated with pathogens such as campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, listeria and salmonella, among others.

Why am I more susceptible?

1. You have a weakened immune system which results in your body not being able to efficiently guard against and fight off harmful bacteria and other pathogens that may cause infection.

2. Diabetes may destroy cells in the stomach that produce acids used in the digestion of food and nerves that assist in moving food through the intestines. This may result in your stomach holding food for a longer time after it has been consumed, allowing bacteria and other harmful pathogens to proliferate.

3. Your kidneys may not function efficiently to remove toxins and other harmful pathogens from your body.

What precautions should I take?

Given that you are at a higher risk of contracting food-borne illnesses, extra care must be taken when purchasing, handling, preparing, and consuming your foods. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Consult with your doctor or health care provider about making wise food choices. You may need to avoid high-risk foods such as raw or undercooked fish/shellfish, foods containing raw or undercooked eggs such as home-made eggnog, home-made salad dressings, raw sprouts, unwashed fruits and vegetables, soft cheese made from unpasteurised milk, hot dogs and deli meats. You may need to create a long-term diet plan.

2. Always use clean cutting boards, utensils, pots and dishes to prepare your food — it is helpful to always have a sanitiser solution on hand for sanitising after washing with soap. Remember to use clean cloths and paper towels to wipe countertops and dry containers and always wash your produce before consuming them.

3. Avoid cross-contamination of your cooked food with raw food and never reuse marinades on raw food unless you cook prior to using.

4. Always have your thermometer on hand and ensure your internal cooking temperatures and your chill temperatures are those recommended by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

5. When eating out always ask questions on how food is prepared before you order and avoid ordering the following:

•raw or undercooked seafood


•cold hot dogs

•deli meat sandwiches

•soft boiled eggs or eggs over easy

•cheese such as brie, feta, queso fresco

6. When travelling with food ensure cold food is kept cold and hot food is kept warm in insulated containers. Try to consume hot food within two hours of packaging if you do not have provisions to reheat.

7. If you ever suffer from symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever after consuming food, contact your health care provider immediately.

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