Food poisoning is an instant way to ruin any trip. Whether you’re travelling for work or leisure, fighting fevers, vomiting and diarrhoea is not the way you want to be spending your time. Food poisoning, which is the colloquial term for food-borne illness, is defined as an illness caused by eating contaminated food. And while there are certain places we are more at risk, there are a few simple points we can all keep in mind no matter where we are to avoid the horrible wrath that food-poisoning brings.
Tap water – think before you drink
Tap water is something many of us take for granted in Western counties. But in less developed countries, you are more likely to run into water that contains a variety of microorganisms you want to avoid. It’s important to remember this not only includes water you plan to drink from a tap, but also what you use to brush your teeth or prepare food. To be safe, always opt for bottled water, keep extra bottles stocked for brushing your teeth and make sure to ask for no ice to be mixed in with your drinks. If you believe you will be travelling to an area where bottled water may be hard to source, ask a medical professional or pharmacist about options to decontaminate water.
Raw food – cook it, boil it, peel it, or forget it
Raw food, particularly meat can be a breeding ground for germs. If you are handling raw food it’s important to keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods, such as salad, fruit and bread. This is because these foods won’t be cooked before you eat them, so any bacteria that makes its way onto the foods from the raw meat won’t be killed. When opting for raw fruit and veg, avoid items that grow in the ground as bacteria from soil can be hard to kill or wash off. Your best option is fruit and vegetables that have an outer skin you can peel like oranges, bananas or mangoes.
Packaged food – check the date and seal
Choosing to eat dry or packaged food can help reduce your risk of food poisoning as many germs require moisture to grow. Dry foods, such as potato chips, and factory-sealed food, such as canned tuna, are usually safe to eat as long as they haven’t been opened, handled by another person, or if the item is past its used by date. So, make sure to inspect your food carefully! For drinks, bottles or cans are your preferred option. Be wary through as some dishonest vendors may try to sell ‘sealed’ bottles which are fake, and may have added ingredients such as milk products or fruits like lemons which can cause contamination.
Keep it clean
While travelling and exploring we can pick up all types of germs and bacteria on our hands. Before preparing food and eating make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If you are planning to cook or handle your own food it’s also important to make sure your work space, plates and any other items you are using are clean. Wipe everything down before you start to keep yourself and your meal safe.
Food poisoning can be an awful experience for anyone while travelling. Following our tips will help you be aware of what you eat and drink and how it’s been prepared so you can avoid any nasty surprises!
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