Low Bacteria Diet
What is a Low Bacteria Diet?
- A low bacteria (bak-TEE-ree-ah) diet includes eating healthy foods with low amounts of bacteria (germs). These germs are normally found in the home, on the hands of a person preparing food, or in the food itself. While following this diet, you will need to choose foods with low amounts of bacteria. Foods must also be prepared and cooked in ways to keep the amount of bacteria low.
- The goal of a low bacteria diet is to keep you from getting an infection (in-FEK-shun) in your body. Bacteria in foods or beverages can cause an infection in your body. Your caregiver may suggest this diet if you have a problem with the immune system in your body. Your immune system helps protect you from getting sick. Cancer treatments, organ transplants, and other medical conditions may decrease your immunity (ability to fight infection). Your caregiver will tell you how long you should follow this diet.
What should I avoid eating and drinking while on a low bacteria diet?
Milk and milk products:
- Milk and milk products, yogurt, and cheese that are raw or have not been pasteurized (pas-ter-EYE-zd). This is a process that heats food in order to destroy bacteria.
- Cheese from a deli counter, cheese containing chili peppers or uncooked vegetables.
- Cheese with mold such as blue, Stilton, gorgonzola, and Roquefort.
- Aged cheese such as sharp cheddar, brie, feta, and farmer's cheese.
Meat, meat substitutes and nuts:
- Raw or undercooked meats, poultry, fish, eggs, game and tofu.
- Meat and cold cuts from deli counters.
- Hard cured salami in natural wrap.
- Cold smoked salmon.
- Pickled fish.
- Tempe (tempeh) products.
- Roasted nuts in the shell, or (unroasted) raw nuts.
Fruits and vegetables:
- Unwashed raw fruit.
- Unwashed raw vegetables and herbs.
- All raw vegetable sprouts, such as alfalfa, radish, and broccoli.
- Salads from a delicatessen (deli), or a salad bar.
- Caesar or other salads made using raw eggs.
- Commercial salsas (stored in the refrigerator).
Grain products and soups:
- Raw grain products.
- All miso products (such as miso soup).
- Well water (unless it is tested yearly and found to be safe).
- Cold-brewed tea made with warm or cold water.
- Fruit and vegetable juices that have not been pasteurized.
Desserts, fats, and other food products:
- Desserts that are made with milk or milk products and have not been refrigerated.
- Fresh salad dressing made with aged cheese.
- Raw honey.
- Herbal supplements (pills).
- Uncooked brewer's yeast.
What can I eat and drink while on a low bacteria diet?
- You may eat and drink milk and milk products that are pasteurized. This includes pasteurized cheese, yogurt and frozen desserts. Tap water and bottled water are safe to drink. You can drink coffee and hot tea. Cold tea brewed with boiling water is safe to drink. You can drink canned or bottled drinks such as soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks. Powdered drinks such as lemonade and fruits drinks can be drank if they are mixed with tap or bottled water.
- Eat only well-cooked meats, poultry, fish, eggs, egg substitutes and tofu. Canned meats and fish are also safe to eat. Some examples include canned chicken, tuna, and canned and commercially packaged hard smoked fish. Refrigerate canned meats after opening them. Eat packaged meat and meat substitutes. This includes packaged luncheon meats, peanut butter, and canned or bottled roasted nuts. Nuts that are baked into other food products are also safe to eat.
- You may have well-washed raw fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs and spices. Canned, frozen and cooked vegetables and fruits are safe to have, as are canned and frozen fruit juices. It is safe to eat all breads, crackers, pancakes, waffles, bagels, and pasta. Cooked soups and entrees are also safe to eat. Some snack foods that you can eat are packaged chips, pretzels, and popcorn.
- All refrigerated cakes, pies and puddings made at home or bought at a grocery store are safe to eat. Fruit ice and popsicle products also may be enjoyed. You may use margarine, butter, oil, shortening, mayonnaise and salad dressing bought from a grocery store. Packaged condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and steak sauce safe to eat. Packaged seasonings from a grocery store are also safe to eat. You can have packaged candy and gum from a grocery store.
What are some other things I should remember when I go shopping for foods at a grocery store?
- Read the “Sell By” or “Use By” month, date, and year on foods. Never buy a food when the date on the label is past.
- Buy fruits and vegetables that appear fresh. Ask grocery store workers how fresh the product is before you buy it.
- Check packaging date on fresh meats, poultry and seafood. Do not buy if the food is outdated.
- Do not buy foods from dented or bulging cans, torn boxes, or leaky plastic wrappers.
- Do not eat sample foods in grocery stores.
- Avoid buying food that is stored in bins rather than packages in grocery stores.
- Do not buy eggs that are cracked and not refrigerated.
- Place perishable foods (foods that can spoil) in the refrigerator right away when you get home from a grocery store.
How can I prepare foods in a way that keeps the amount of bacteria low?
- Wash your hands well before preparing foods.
- Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or microwave. Use foods right away after they have been thawed. Do not freeze foods again after you have thawed them.
- Wash fruits and vegetables completely under running water before peeling and slicing them. Cut away bruised areas.
- Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables.
- Wash cans and bottles of food with soap and warm water before opening them.
How can I cook foods in a way that keeps the amount of bacteria low?
- Cook meats until they are well done. Buy a meat thermometer to check the temperature of meat. Doing this will help to make sure it is completely cooked. You can buy a meat thermometer at most grocery stores. There should not be any pink color in them. Cook red meat to 165 degrees and cook poultry to 180 degrees. Microwave cooking can leave cold spots where bacteria can grow. When cooking or heating foods in a microwave, turn the dish often, and stir the foods.
- Keep foods at safe temperatures. Cook foods to at least 165 degrees and keep them hot after cooking. Keep cold foods below 40 degrees and keep them in the refrigerator. Take them out only when it is time to eat them.
- Do not taste food with the same spoon you are using for stirring when food is being cooked. Use a separate spoon for tasting.
- Never leave food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Foods with eggs or mayonnaise in them should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than one hour.
- Divide leftover food into small amounts and place them in small containers in the refrigerator so that they can cool off quickly.
- Throw away unused food that has been in the refrigerator two to three days. Do not reheat or eat food that does not smell good, or has mold on it.
What are some ways that I can keep the kitchen area clean and free of bacteria?
- Each day, wash dishcloths and sponges used to clean up after meals. Use bleach and hot water to wash them, and rinse them well. Replace sponges once a week with new ones. Use clean towels every day. Wipe up spills and keep your kitchen clean. You may want to use a mixture of one tablespoon of bleach in a quart of warm water to clean your kitchen. Keep counters, cabinets and other places that food may touch as clean as possible.
- Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher after using them.
- Keep appliances (such as the stove and microwave oven) clean and free of food crumbs.
- Keep counter and kitchen surfaces clean and free of food crumbs.
How can I choose low bacteria foods when I go out to eat at a restaurant?
- Avoid yogurt and ice cream from soft-serve machines.
- Only eat at restaurants that are known to be clean. If a restaurant looks dirty or you have heard that it is dirty, do not eat there.
- Avoid foods from salad bars, deli counters, buffets, and places that sell foods along the sidewalk. Avoid potlucks and food kept under warming lights.
- Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables at restaurants unless you know that they have been washed very well.
- Avoid condiments (such as mustard or ketchup), from self-serve containers. Ask for condiment packages.
Risks: Eating foods that have not been prepared in the safest way or that have germs on them can cause infection. You may not be able to fight off an infection if your immune system is weak. You may need to take medicine or stay in the hospital if you develop an infection.
You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
© 2012 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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