What You Need to Know to Prevent Food Poisoning
Food poisoning can ruin any trip.
Follow these five tips to prevent food poisoning so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest!
1. Don’t drink the water (this includes ice).
Water straight from the tap is often unfiltered and can contain bacteria, pathogens and other microscopic buddies that your stomach isn’t used to. Just because you see the locals do it doesn’t mean your stomach can handle it. Take a polite pass by carrying your own water with you. Keep in mind this also applies to ice. If they offer you a cold soda, it’s best to ask for no ice to avoid the water. If the water is boiled (tea, coffee) then it is sanitized and safe to drink.
2. Only eat cooked vegetables.
Eating out is always risky, because you’re at the mercy of whomever is preparing your food. You may be tempted to order a nice salad to get some greens, but think again. The vegetables are often rinsed in the same water that will make you sick if you drink it. It’s best to eat only cooked vegetables when eating out to prevent food poisoning. This also applies to any fruit that you eat the skin of (apples, berries, stone fruits etc). Fruits with a peel are safe (bananas, oranges, etc.)
3. Wash fruits + vegetables in water and vinegar.
If you’re staying somewhere long enough you may get the opportunity to cook for yourself. The fruits and vegetables you buy still need a good wash. Instead of using just water, try soaking them in a water/distilled white vinegar rinse. The ratio is about 4:1. Let them soak for around 10 minutes. Vinegar kills about 98% of bacteria on fruits and vegetables. Make sure you’re using filtered water when you rinse them off!
4. Stay hydrated.
Makes sure to always have your own water with you and drink it often. You’ll be trying a lot of new foods and staying hydrated may be the difference between nausea and enjoyment. You may be walking a lot more than you’re used to with higher temperatures and new smells. Stay hydrated to give your stomach and senses a fighting chance!
5. Be mindful how long something is at room temperature.
People in some cultures don’t have much refrigeration or see a need for it. They may leave meat out from morning until night and still be serving it. Again, your stomach isn’t used to that and it might cause food-borne illness that won’t sit so well. If appropriate, opt for a non-meat option if you aren’t sure how long something has been sitting out. If there’s no way around the meat part of hospitality, fill up on as much else as you can and pray that you’ll be okay!
At the end of the day, remember this: if you stay somewhere long enough, there will be something you eat that doesn’t want to stay in your stomach for long. It can even happen if you never leave home. But if you follow these tips, it may happen less!
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