The term “neutropenic diet” covers a range of diets for patients made neutropenic by chemoradiation..


The neutropenic diet is intended to avoid infection for a patient made neutropenic during cancer therapy.


At one end of the spectrum is the absolute neutropenic diet that is highly restrictive with diet strictly controlled. At the end is the permissive neutropenic diet that allows certain foods within reason.




fresh fruits and vegetables

not permitted

permitted if selected and cleaned carefully

foods brought in from home or restaurant

not permitted or restricted

permitted but avoids unrefrigerated leftovers

foods containing potential pathogens

not permitted

not permitted

prepared luncheon meat

not permitted

not permitted

hot foods

heated to appropriate internal temperatures

heated to appropriate internal temperatures


Potential pathogens include:

(1) Salmonella

(2) Vibrio cholerae and related species

(3) Yersinia

(4) Campylobacter

(5) pathogenic E. coli

(6) Listeria


Foods not permitted:

(1) raw eggs

(2) raw or undercooked meats

(3) uncooked or undercooked seafood

(4) unpasteurized milk


The absolute neutropenic diet did not prevent major infection or death when compared to a more permissive diet.


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