Don’t let food poisoning ruin your holiday with these 6 tips

To protect yourself from food poisoning, here’s a food safety refresher you should keep in mind

Racha Adib

Published: Updated:

With summer temperatures soaring, the risks of food poisoning grow tremendously. If you’re traveling at this time of the year, you need to be extra careful.

There are many different types of food poisoning. One of the more common problems when traveling to other countries is Traveler’s Diarrhea (TD). Depending on the destination of the traveler, the incidence of TD varies between 30-70 percent.

To protect yourself from food poisoning and avoid spending a holiday near the toilet, here’s a food safety refresher you should keep in mind.

Carry hand sanitizer

Before eating, after using the bathroom or changing diapers or after smoking you should always wash your hands with soap and warm water. But when you’re traveling, because you’re on the go, having an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you at all times comes in handy even if they’re not effective against all food pathogens. Whenever soap and water become available, you should wash your hands immediately.

Order your vegetables cooked

Although the summer season calls for a refreshing crisp salad, unless you’re sanitizing it yourself or you trust the restaurant, always opt for cooked vegetables. High heat from cooking will kill most of the bacteria.

Avoid raw meat and eggs

Trying local cuisine is an essential part of the travel experience but having a Levantine kibbeh nayyeh (raw lamb mixed with bulgur) or a salmon ceviche (marinated raw seafood) may not be a safe idea. All raw or undercooked meat, fish, and shellfish are subject to contamination and can carry harmful pathogens. Travelers should be advised to eat only food that is fully cooked especially when visiting countries where hygiene regulations are lax. Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or lightly cooked eggs, such as hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, and tiramisu. When having eggs as a main, choose hard boiled eggs, fried eggs or scrambled eggs and avoid soft cooked and runny eggs.

Skip street food

It may be convenient, but it’s often risky to purchase food from street vendors. While food carts and trucks are all the rage right now, they may not hold the same hygiene standards as restaurants due to their lack of proper regulation in most countries. Take a look at the cart or truck before ordering. Does it look clean and well kept? Is it busy? The fewer the customers, the longer the food will be sitting before being served. If you really want to try a local delicacy on the street, order something that you can get sizzling off a hot grill.

Peel your fruit

It is important to wash all fruits before you eat them to ensure they are clean and safe to eat. When you’re eating out, it’s difficult to control how the fruits are being washed so the best way to remove bacteria is through peeling. Avoid raw fruits that are eaten unpeeled (such as strawberries) or cut, and choose fruits that are eaten peeled (such as bananas) and peel them yourself to ensure they’re safe to eat.

Watch out for contaminated water

In many parts of the world - particularly where water treatment, sanitation, and hygiene are not up to standards - tap water may contain contaminants, including viruses, bacteria and parasites. As a result, tap water in some countries may be unsafe for drinking. Ask for commercially bottled water with an unopened, factory-seal. Beverages made with boiled water and served steaming hot (such as in tea and coffee) are generally safe to drink. Beverages that may not be safe for consumption include fountain drinks, fruit drinks made with tap water, iced tea and iced coffee. Because ice might be made from contaminated water, travelers in areas with unsafe tap water should ask that beverages be served without ice.