Food Safety Strategies for Cancer Patients


​Tenovus Innovation Grant: Food Safety Research Group

Ms Ellen Evans, Research Associate
Mr Simon Dawson, Lecturer in Food Production Management
Dr Liz Redmond, Research Fellow
Professor Adrian Peters, Dean of School

The Tenovus Cancer Charity has awarded a grant to a research group at the Cardiff School of Health Sciences to design, develop and evaluate food safety information produced for Immunocompromised Cancer patients and associated care givers.  

Food borne illness is largely a preventable disease if safe food handling and storage practices are followed.  Notwithstanding that, approximately 3 million people in the UK suffer from food borne illnesses.  Cancer patients are five times more likely to develop foodborne illness, particularly listeriosis.  Safe food handling and storage practices during food preparation at home are required to reduce the risk of food borne disease for these 'at risk' consumers.  However, relatively little is known about the food safety information cancer patients/caregivers receive and anecdotal evidence suggests there is a lack of food safety information available specifically for these groups.  

Food safety interventions intended for the general population may not reach this specific group or associated caregivers at a time when they are at increased risk of foodborne illness.  This project aims to develop specific food safety information for patients and caregivers to be delivered in the most appropriate way to promote safe food handling, decreasing the chance of food poisoning among cancer patients.  

The grant will fund Ms Evans, Dr Redmond and Mr Dawson to identify and review recent, current and proposed food safety education initiatives aimed at cancer patients in the UK; international initiatives for this target audience will also be investigated.  Following in-depth quantitative and qualitative research with cancer patients and their caregivers appropriate food safety information resources tailored specifically for patients and caregivers will be designed, developed and evaluated.  This will be presented in the context of a risk communication food safety strategy to promote safe food handling/storage behaviours for the target audience.  

The ultimate planned outcome is a reduction in listeriosis and other foodborne illnesses due to interactions between unsafe food practices and immunocompromised status as a result of cancer treatment.  The knowledge and perceptions of the target group regarding food safety and the strategy and resources will be developed to assist in identifying cues to action that will enable safe food behavioural change. 

The food safety research group are looking for 100 people that are currently undergoing or have recently undergone treatment for cancer (radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy) and 100 caregivers (if responsible for the majority of food preparation during treatment for cancer) to take part in the study which will involve a self-complete postal questionnaire and the option to take part in future focus groups.

For further information about taking part please contact Ellen Evans or 02920 201175