Safety Food Safety Concerns for Autoimmune Disease
People with autoimmune disease are at a higher risk of foodborne illnesses because their immune systems are compromised and inadequate to fight off infection. With an autoimmune disease, the immune system is compromised either by the disease or by medicine taken to manage the disease. No matter what the reason for the compromised immune system, individuals with autoimmune disease are at an increased risk for foodborne illnesses.
Common Types of Auto-Immune Diseases and Risk of Foodborne Illness
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
As treatment for Multiple Sclerosis involves steroids and immunosuppressive drugs, patients are at increased risk for foodborne infection. However, besides toxoplasmosis, there are few scientific reports of foodborne infection but this does not mean that MS patients should not take food safety precautions.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Treatment for IBD includes immunosuppressant, steroids, and biological therapies all of which increase susceptibility to foodborne illness. Patients taking two or more drugs are at even higher risk of foodborne illness. Infections associated with immunosuppressant therapy in IBD patients include Salmonella, Listeria monocytogens, and Toxoplasma gondii.
The use of corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents in the treatment of SLE increases the risk of contracting foodborne illness. Patients under immunosuppressive therapy have been shown to more easily contract Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii, and E. coli. In SLE patients with severe infections the most frequently identified pathogen was E. coli.
What You Can Do
Learn about safety tips for those at increased risk of foodborne illness. Those living with autoimmune diseases should always follow the four steps:
Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often
Separate: Separate raw meat and poultry from ready-to-eat foods
Cook: Cook food to the right temperatures
Chill: Chill raw meat and poultry as well as cooked leftovers promptly (within 2 hours)
If you or someone you care for receives prepared meals, visit our home delivered meals page for information on how to keep these safe.
Download our FoodKeeper application to make sure you are storing food and beverages properly, and using them within recommended storage guidelines.