Take Precautions with Food, Drink When Travelling Internationally

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Many of my friends love to post their travels around the globe on Facebook. Their adventures during trips to Switzerland, Scotland, Singapore, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Germany, Jordan, India, Thailand, Kenya, the Maldives, Georgia (the country, not the state), Turkey, England and France pop up regularly in photos on my Facebook feeds. And many of those photos highlight meals that they’re enjoying.

    Those photos got me thinking – what guidelines should you follow when travelling internationally so you can make informed choices about what you drink and eat in order to remain healthy, especially in countries that have poor hygiene and sanitation. Here are some recommendations for you to consider during your travels in these types of countries:

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    • Wash your hands thoroughly and often. You should always wash your hands prior to handling or eating food.
    • Do not eat uncooked vegetables and fruits, which may have been washed in contaminated water. However, if you have personally washed them in clean water, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that they should be safe to eat.
    • You can consider eating uncooked vegetables and fruits only when you can peel or shell them yourself.
    • Consume food only when it’s steaming hot when you are eating it. Otherwise, food can be a breeding ground for bacteria. This includes foods that are part of a buffet or sold at a market or by street vendor. So do not eat food that is served at room temperature.
    • Beware of condiments such as salsa that have been made with fresh ingredients.
    • Hard-cooked eggs should be safe to eat. However, do not eat raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs.
    • Avoid consuming unpasteurized dairy products. This warning includes cheese and dressings that are creamy.
    • Pasteurized dairy products should be safe to eat.
    • Only eat eggs, meat, fish and shellfish that have been fully cooked.
    • Do not eat bush meat (monkeys, bats or other wild game).
    • Only drink beverages that have been made with boiled water (coffee and tea) or are from unopened cans or bottles (water, soft drinks, carbonated mineral water, beer and wine). Only drink cans or bottles that you open yourself.
    • Do not use ice cubes, since they may have been made by using contaminated water.
    • Do not eat flavored ice or popsicles.
    • Do not drink tap or well water.
    • Don’t consume fountain drinks.
    • If you are concerned about the safety of the water, boil it at a vigorous rate for approximately 10 minutes. Once it cools, you should be able to drink it.
    • Only use bottled or boiled water when brushing your teeth.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that unclean water also can cause you to become sick if you swallow or inhale it while swimming, showering or bathing. Therefore, you need to make every effort to ensure that water doesn’t enter your nose or mouth. “In some areas, tap water may not even be safe for brushing your teeth, and you should use bottled water,” the center website stated. “People who are elderly or have weakened immune systems might want to stay away from areas where there is a lot of steam and water vapor that can be inhaled, such as showers and hot tubs.”

  • So if you’re planning an international adventure for this summer, be cautious about what you eat and drink. Taking these precautions can help you enjoy a happy and healthy trip.

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    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Food and water safety.

    Mayo Clinic. (2013). Special report: Healthy traveling.

Published On: July 09, 2013