However adventurous you are at sampling that delicious local cuisine, you’ll always need to pay close attention to everything you eat or drink while you’re away, especially in areas of poor sanitation.
By all means, don’t let us put you off your dinner! All we’re asking is that you try to be aware of all the the potential risks of contaminated food before you tuck in. You could be exposing yourself to some pretty scary things, even by something as safe-looking as a couple of ice-cubes in your mid-afternoon cocktail…
Travellers’ diarrhoea, E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Giardia, Entamoebahystolytica, Campylobacter Cryptosporidia, Cyclospora and even Cholera could all be lurking in your elevenses if you’re not careful!
Because of this, we’ve come up with a handy list of Dos and Don’ts for safe food and liquid consumption while you’re on holiday. We advise that while you’re staying in areas where its tricky to ensure good levels of cleanliness, you should always follow these precautions to make sure that you stay guarded against common and some less than common infections, too.
Dos and Don'ts
- Do keep washing those hands! Personal hygiene is SO important, especially when you’re eating or drinking. Always remember to wash your hands before handling food, before mealtimes, and after you use the loo. It’s a good idea to bring hand wipes or sanitising gel in your bag just in case you can’t reach a decent place to wash your hands while you’re on the move.
- Don’t drink or wash any fresh fruit or veg in water that you’re not sure about. All the water you drink or use to prepare food in should be purified or treated beforehand. Don’t even use ice cubes or clean your teeth in unsafe water! Bottled water is best, but if you don’t have access to this then boiling it, using a filter or a chemical purifier are the next best thing. See our page on water and liquid precautions for extra info.
- Do drink bottled or sealed drinks! It’s fine to enjoy a can of beer or share a bottle of wine at mealtimes, but don’t trust anything without a seal or if the seal’s been visibly broken.
- Do enjoy a cuppa or two… We know you’ll be missing a cup of that good old British brew so, rest assured, all hot teas, coffees or drinks made with boiled water will be safe to drink.
- Do boil all milk or cream that you have unless you’re certain it’s been pasteurised.
- Do try to buy your dairy products from the bigger, more established shops where you can be certain it’s of good quality and has been pasteurised.
- Don’t use any dirty cups, plates or cooking utensils at mealtimes! Make sure they’re all clean, and if you’re not sure about them then use alcohol wipes to be extra safe.
- Do sample the local street food: it’s delicious! Funnily enough, most of the time street food will be amongst the safest you’ll find - but make sure you choose food that’s just been cooked, looks fresh, and is served piping hot when you get it.
- Don’t buy meat unless you’re sure it’s been freshly prepared. If you’re eating meat then it should be properly cooked through and you must eat it hot wherever you can!
- Don’t risk those leftovers! As tempting as last night’s curry might look, it’s not safe to risk eating pre-cooked food that’s been left out in the air for too long.
- Do peel any fresh fruit you eat as its possible that the skins will have been contaminated by nearby flies or bugs.
- Do eat all your veg after its been well-cooked! There’s no need to miss out on your 5-a-day but, sadly, fresh vegetables or salad bits are easily contaminated in the soil or by flies, and they can also be difficult to clean.
- Don’t play Russian roulette with fish or shellfish on holiday! These can be tricky foods at the best of times even if cooked properly, so talk to some locals about what’s safe to eat and if doesn’t seem OK, don’t eat it!
Well there you have it: our top list of Dos and Don'ts for safe eating and drinking while you’re travelling abroad. Try to stick to these as closely as possible, and remember: if in doubt, steer clear!