Food Safety Post-Transplant

elderly woman washing vegetables at her kitchen sink

Submitted by Celina So, Nutrition Student, edited by Dani Renouf, RD, MSc, CDE and Kathy Giangaspero, Communications Coordinator, The Kidney Foundation – Photo by CDC on Unsplash

What is a Kidney Transplant?

Kidneys are an important part of your health. Their main function is to remove waste products and excess fluids from your body through your urine. Additionally, kidneys produce hormones that impact the function of other organs. They also regulate your body’s acid balance, and sodium and potassium levels. A transplant is needed when your kidneys no longer work properly. It is considered the best way to treat kidney failure for many people.   


A successful kidney transplant allows you more flexibility and freedom with your health management. In fact, a study published in the BMC Nephrology journal found that patients who receive a kidney transplant benefit from a better quality of life and better health compared to those on dialysis. 

However, as with any type of surgery, there may be   risks and side effects. These include taking immunosuppressive drugs to prevent your body from rejecting the transplanted kidney, which may impact your immune system and lead to infections. It is important to protect yourself especially since germs found in some foods may increase the risk of illness in recipient’s post-transplant.

 Below are food safety tips to help you stay healthy and infection-free!

Food Safety Tip #1:  

At Home

  • Wash your hands to prevent foodborne illness and bacteria from coming into contact with your food.
  • Scrub fruits and vegetables thoroughly with a brush.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by having separate cutting boards for raw meats and fruits and vegetables.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked to the proper internal temperature.
  • Avoid eating foods past their “best before” or expiration date.
  • Avoid unpasteurized food products (Ex. Certain cheeses, meats, beverages, etc.)
Photo by Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplash

Food Safety Tip #2:

Dining Out

  •  Ensure meat, poultry, and fish are well cooked.
  • Avoid sandwiches with deli meats or hollandaise sauce as their preparation does not involve cooking methods that eliminate food bacteria.
  • Avoid eating raw seafood such as oysters, sushi and sashimi.

Food Safety Tip #3:

Fluid Intake

  • Avoid unpasteurized beverages by reading labels carefully.
  • Boil tap water before drinking as a precaution.

If you have any questions or need more information on food safety, contact your local health care provider or a registered dietitian to help you make proper food choices and/or develop   an eating plan that works for you post-transplant.


Tucker, E. L., Smith, A. R., Daskin, M. S., Schapiro, H., Cottrell, S. M., Gendron, E. S., … & Maass, K. L. (2019). Life and expectations post-kidney transplant: a qualitative analysis of patient responses. BMC nephrology20(1), 175.