for Veterans and the Public
What should I know about food safety?
Paying attention to food and water safety is important when you have HIV, because your immune system is already weakened and working hard to fight off infections.
If food is not handled or prepared in a safe way, germs from the food can be passed on to you. These germs can make you sick.
You need to handle and cook food properly to keep those germs from getting to you.
Here are some food safety guidelines:
- Keep everything clean! Clean your counters and utensils often.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after preparing and eating food.
- Check expiration dates on food packaging. Do not eat foods that are past the expiration date.
- Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables with clean water.
- Thaw frozen meats and other frozen foods in the refrigerator or in a microwave. Never thaw foods at room temperature. Germs that grow at room temperature can make you very sick.
- Clean all cutting boards and knives (especially those that touch chicken and meat) with soap and hot water before using them again.
- Make sure you cook all meat, fish, and poultry "well-done." You might want to buy a meat thermometer to help you know for sure that it is done. Put the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and not touching a bone. Cook the meat until it reaches 165 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit on your thermometer.
- Do not eat raw, soft-boiled, or "over easy" eggs, or Caesar salads with raw egg in the dressing.
- Do not eat sushi, raw seafood, or raw meats, or unpasteurized milk or dairy products.
- Keep your refrigerator cold, set no higher than 40 degrees. Your freezer should be at 0 degrees.
- Refrigerate leftovers at temperatures below 40 degrees F. Do not eat leftovers that have been sitting in the refrigerator for more than 3 days.
- Keep hot items heated to over 140 degrees F, and completely reheat leftovers before eating.
- Throw away any foods (like fruit, vegetables, and cheese) that you think might be old. If food has a moldy or rotten spot, throw it out. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Some germs are spread through tap water. Check the quality of your public water supply or drink bottled water.