Jan 29

7 Food Safety Tips for Travelers

by in How To's & Lessons Learned

One of the biggest concerns that people have while traveling is getting sick from food or drinks. Often, in many cases it is unpreventable, it is just the adjustment to new bacteria, spices, unfamiliar foods, or a change in your diet/how and what you eat. However, there are a few things you can do to helps keep your digestive system safe from those occurrences that could have been prevented by a little know how and caution.Here are 10 tips to keep you healthy and away from the toilet (for one reason or another) while traveling.

  • Peel Your Food: I know this may not be common at home but the chemicals, fertilizer (some use all natural means and not just from animals) and even the water can get you sick. Therefore, to play it safe make sure you have a peeler handy. Peeling off the skin of your fruits and veggies can help remove any outside contaminants.
  • Fear Not the Lettuce: One of the biggest foods people are advised to stay clear of is lettuce, which if you are eating out may be some sound advice. This is because unlike foods that can be peeled or have an outer skin, all that has come into contact with the lettuce is there on your plate. However, if you are eating at home soak the lettuce with some onions or salt water. The salt will draw the moisture out of the lettuce so only prepare as much as you will eat. The iodine in the onions will help clean the lettuce. Let the lettuce soak for a few minutes first and then rinse the lettuce one last time after you have drained the water.
  • You’d Do Well, to Make Sure Your Food is Well Cooked: So maybe you like your meat a bit rare, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, it is always better to play it safe and make sure your food it cooked all the way through.
  • Seafood Sickness: Seafood is always something to be cautious of just because it can easily spoil and many shell fish collect the contaminants within the water. Cooked seafood is better than raw unless you are sure of what and where you are eating. Also, if you have a temperamental belly I would recommend waiting a few days to allow your stomach to adjust to the countries culinary peculiarities before diving into seafood.
  • To Eat or Not To Eat From Street Venders: Many advise you to stay far away from street venders but truth be told in some cases they may be cleaner then a sit down restaurant. At least with the venders you can see everything. In most cases I would avoid sea food from street venders just because it is less likely they will be able to safely keep it chilled.
  • What About Water: The default is boiled water, which in some cases you will have to do just make sure you boil the water for at least 1 minute, longer if you are at altitudes higher than 2,000 meters. However, between water filters and bottled water your access to clean water continues to increase over time. There are also other options such as iodine tablets, bleach (5 drops for every 2 liters and let sit for 30 mins), and UV light purifiers. As a double safety precaution there are many water bottles that come with carbon filters, this does not kill bacteria but will clean the water.
  • When All Else Fails: When it comes down to it, if you can’t wash it, peel it, or cook it then you should avoid it.

In the end part of the joy of traveling is trying new food, and sometimes you may have to tiptoe along that line of being cautious and adventurous. If all else fails keep some anti-diarrhea pills handy.


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