5 Tips for Avoiding Food-Borne Illnesses While Traveling

By Paul Riegler on 2 March 2017
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Traveling frequently includes eating on the run, eating at heretofore unknown venues, eating part of a meal and saving the rest for later, and taking leftovers back to one’s hotel room. In addition, fruit and local delicacies may look appealing but come with their own risks.

Especially in developing countries, travelers are at risk of consuming contaminated food or drinks.

It’s important to be aware of food-safety precautions that can reduce the possibility of food poisoning and other serious illnesses.

Here are five tips for safer eating and drinking habits that should keep your stomach healthy when on the road.

1.) Beware of Water and Other Beverages

Most canned and bottled drinks should be safe but resist the temptation to pour your beverage over ice if the safety of the local water is questionable. In most developing countries, avoid tap water and make sure you don’t swallow any when showering or brushing your teeth. Some hotels provide bottled water in bathrooms for dental hygiene while others have their own filtration systems.

Hot beverages are generally safe if steaming but beware of coffee and tea served at room temperature.

2.) Refrigerate Leftovers Immediately

While many people were brought up to let hot leftovers cool down before putting them into the refrigerator, it’s much safer to refrigerate them immediately. Illness-causing bacteria can grow in food within two hours without refrigeration and within one hour in hot climates.

3.) Avoid Raw Food

In general, avoid raw food although raw fruit and vegetables should be safe if you can peel them and rinse them yourself using bottled or filtered water. In restaurants in cities where food-hygiene standards may not be as at home, avoid fruit and vegetable platters and salads as well as dishes such as salsa made from such items. Raw meat and seafood should also be avoided under similar circumstances.

4.) Be Cautious of Street Food

Even in major metropolitan areas of first-world countries, street food may not be subject to the same food-safety and hygiene standards as at restaurants or such regulations may simply not be enforced. If in doubt, avoid street food but also consult with knowledgeable locals such as your hotel’s concierge on this matter.

5.) Wash Your Hands – Frequently

The germs hiding on your hands can easily contaminate the food you are about to consume. Wash your hands before eating for at least 20 seconds using soap and running water or use a hand sanitizer often.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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