How to Avoid Food Poisoning when Traveling Abroad

Food poisoning can often occur when traveling abroad, especially if you travel to developing countries, or to countries that lack certain resources or regulations that enforce good health. No matter where you go, there are ways you can prepare for your trip to avoid food poisoning.

Steps

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    Choose eating locales with positive business reputations. Although this factor may be difficult to determine when traveling abroad, you can use the recommendations of friends, travel agents, or websites on the Internet to research a restaurant or eatery.
    • Use the Internet to get recommendations and information about local eateries. For example, go to an Internet search engine, and enter search phrases such as "tips for eating in Venezuela," or "restaurant recommendations Morocco" to find websites that discuss eateries in your destination area.
    • Visit restaurants and eateries located in a busy tourist area. Eateries in busy tourist areas often maintain high standards because they want to keep up a positive reputation for repeat business and customers.
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    Refrain from buying food from street vendors. In many cases, street vendors do not have permits and are not subject to inspection, which can result in selling food with lower quality and health standards.
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    Inspect the appearance of the eatery or vendor before buying food. This practice can provide you with insight into an establishment's hygiene practices. For example, inspect the cleanliness and condition of tablecloths, the physical condition of the menus, and the appearance of the wait staff to determine an eatery's overall cleanliness and hygiene.
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    Eat hot, cooked food or raw food that can be peeled. Hot food that has been thoroughly cooked is less likely to contain bacteria that can lead to food poisoning; whereas raw foods that can be peeled (such as bananas or oranges) have not been exposed to harmful bacteria.
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    Refrain from eating seafood or raw dairy products, specifically. Seafood may not have been cooked properly and may contain contaminants from local waters. Dairy products may contain non-pasteurized elements and bacteria, or have not been stored at proper temperatures.
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    Drink bottled or filtered water at all times. Many countries do not have water filtration systems, so tap water and ice cubes made from tap water can often induce food poisoning.
    • Check the seals on all water bottles to verify that they have not been broken or opened, and order drinks without ice.
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    Eat small portions of every meal or food-type. In the event that a meal you eat is contaminated, your body can either fight off food poisoning completely or be affected minimally by sickness when you eat small meal portions versus large meal portions.
    • Divide meals equally between everybody in your traveling party to reduce portion sizes, or order relatively small portions of certain meals and foods.
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    Wash your hands thoroughly before eating any food while traveling abroad. This can reduce the amount of bacteria or microbes that exist on your hands, especially if your body has never been exposed to certain microbes as a result of being in a new country.
    • Bring alcohol-based sanitizers or alcohol hand-wipes to clean your hands in the event you visit an area that does not contain soap or running water.

Tips

  • Bring emergency food rations with you on your travels, if possible. This can prevent you from having to eat suspicious or contaminated food when no other options are available. Bring food that will not spoil and will make it through customs.
  • Buy water purification tablets to take with you abroad. If you travel to a developing country without water filtration systems, water purification tablets can be used to remove harmful bacteria and elements from tap water.
  • Consult with your health care provider prior to traveling abroad. In many cases, your doctor or health care provider can give you advice, immunizations, or other types of medicines and treatments to medically prepare you for your trip abroad.
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