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LEMTRADA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Because of its risks, LEMTRADA is generally used in people who have tried 2 or more MS medicines that have not worked well enough. It is not known if LEMTRADA is safe and effective for use in children under 17 years of age.

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The Recipe for Food Safety During Multiple Sclerosis Treatment none By the LEMTRADA Team • October 9, 2018

Food safety during multiple sclerosis treatment

Tips for food safety during MS treatment

Is there anything more satisfying than preparing a delicious, nutritious meal at home? Maybe not, but one thing is for certain—for a meal to be truly enjoyable, it must be prepared safely. And for those who are starting treatment with LEMTRADA, it’s important to be extra careful about the food you eat. 

As you may have discussed with your healthcare provider, LEMTRADA affects the immune system by recognizing and removing many of the cells thought to be involved in relapsing MS, leading to a reduction in the number of specific immune cells (T and B cells) in the body. For this reason, people who are about to begin or have recently started treatment with LEMTRADA can be more vulnerable to a serious infection caused by listeria called listeriosis.

Listeria is a bacteria that can get into mainly raw, undercooked, or unpasteurized foods that are handled improperly. When ingested, listeria can cause a serious infection that needs to be treated immediately, with symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, confusion, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

It’s important to avoid foods that may be a source for listeria for about a month before you start your LEMTRADA treatment. You should continue eating cautiously during and after treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

But fear not, food fans—it’s not that you can’t eat. You’ll just need to be more careful about how your food is handled and prepared. Enjoying meals and snacks safely before, during, and after your treatment courses is easy if you follow these food safety tips.

Avoid these delicacies—for now

During the time you are at greater risk of listeria, there are certain foods you should just steer clear of. These include:

• Soft cheeses like queso fresco, queso blanco, panela, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and feta

• Raw or lightly cooked sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts

• Cut melon at room temperature, or refrigerated melon that has been cut for more than 7 days

• Lunch meats like cold cuts, chicken liver, and uncooked hot dogs

• Unpasteurized or raw milk, ice cream and cheese made from raw milk

• Raw seafood, and smoked or cured seafood that is not shelf-stable or cooked

• Rare or undercooked beef, chicken, pork, and lamb

Always check the temperature

You can safely eat many of your favorite foods if they are cooked or heated to the proper internal temperature. When you order food in a restaurant, ask for your food to be cooked to medium-well temperatures. If you’re cooking at home, make sure you get a good food thermometer and check the temperature against the chart below:

Food safety temperature chart

Keep a safe kitchen

Germs have a way of hiding and spreading around the kitchen, so make sure to keep cooking and preparation surfaces clean. Here are some other food safety tips:

• Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds after handling raw food

• Prevent cross-contamination—wash knives, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops well

• Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry, and seafood

• Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator

• Make sure your refrigerator chills to below 40°F

• Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw food on kitchen counters

Enjoy food safely

Hopefully, all this talk about listeria hasn’t spoiled your appetite. Food is wonderful and can still be enjoyed throughout your treatment, as long as it’s prepared safely. Just remember to talk to your healthcare provider about any foods that you should avoid and precautions you should take before starting treatment with LEMTRADA, and when your risk of listeria may decrease.

Bon appétit!

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