How to avoid food poisoning while travelling

How to avoid food poisoning while travelling

  • 30 January 2020
Nothing can ruin a holiday like getting sick. When you’re at home you have control over cleanliness and hygiene in your kitchen, you are aware of use by dates of what’s in your fridge, and you probably know the basic food safety rules to follow when preparing food. But when you’re travelling and in a foreign environment and you can't always be certain of the safety of food on offer. Trying new things and eating unusual foods are some of the best ways to experience a new culture, so don't make the uncertainty stop you. Here are some basic tips you can follow while travelling to minimize your risk of getting food poisoning.

Keep hydrated

Make sure you check if water from the tap is okay to drink, otherwise stick to bottled water.

Avoid ice in your drinks

If you’re travelling to a country where the water cleanliness is doubtful, always ask for your drinks without ice, because you can’t be sure that the ice is made from safe water.

Choose street vendors wisely

Street food is convenient, tasty, and usually much cheaper than restaurant meals. But many people are concerned about street stalls hygiene. You’re best option is to choose foods that are served very hot - think boiling soups, stews, curries or meats grilled at a high temperature in front of you. Microorganisms can’t survive high heat, so generally the higher the temperature, the less likely dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella will survive.

Be wary of uncooked foods

When food isn’t exposed to high temperatures during cooking, the naturally occuring bacteria, some of which are dangerous, are likely to survive. This is why we usually wash fruits and veggies we eat raw. But remember, even if they are being washed, if you’re in a place with dodgy water they will pose a risk. So chose your fruits and salads wisely. The best options are those that need to be peeled before eating, like oranges and bananas. The peel acts like a protective barrier.

Wash and sanitise your hands frequently

Even if you are very careful about your food choices, you could contaminate your food with nasty bacteria from your hands. Travelling often involves being in close quarters with strangers, like in public transport, gross airplane bathrooms, and even sharing rooms in hostels. You have no idea what you’re touching so carry sanitizer and wash your hands when you can.

Probiotic foods

By now everyone has heard about the myriad of benefits that probiotic foods offer. One of their health benefits are the fact that they strengthen the immune system and help fight off the nasty bacteria. So when you’re travelling keep eating probiotic rich foods like yoghurt or kefir, or consider taking a supplement.