People living with HIV/AIDS are susceptible to many types of infections and illnesses. But thanks to better treatments, individuals with HIV/AIDS are now living longer than ever before, making it more important for them to make choices that keep them healthy. In honor of World HIV/AIDS Day, observed December 1st, here are food safety recommendations for individuals with HIV/AIDS and those who care for them.
Safe food handling is crucial to prevent infections brought on by disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens in food and water. The risk of contracting illnesses from dangerous foodborne pathogens can be minimized by being vigilant when handling, preparing, and consuming foods.
What You Can Do: Clean – Separate – Cook – Chill
To lower the risk of getting a foodborne illness, follow these four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often
Prior to preparing your food, wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Use only clean plates, utensils and dishes when serving food and keep your surfaces clean.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate
Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria spreads from one food to another. This commonly happens when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. The safest practice to prevent cross-contamination is to keep raw meat and poultry—and their juices—away from ready-to-eat foods.
Cook: Cook to proper temperatures
Always use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods. Learn how to properly use a food thermometer and know the minimum temperatures to use when preparing food for those with HIV/AIDS. A Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures Chart is available.
Chill: Refrigerate food promptly
Cold temperatures slow down the growth of harmful bacteria so it’s important to refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing, or within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F. The 2-hour rule keeps foodborne pathogens from rapidly increasing in number, which can be extremely dangerous for individuals with HIV/AIDS because their weakened immune systems are unable to fight against these bacteria.
As the world continues to unite to fight against HIV/AIDS, remember to keep food safety in mind. If you have food safety questions, call USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 or access the automated response system, Ask Karen , which provides live chats as well as food safety information 24/7.