Food and Waterborne Disease

Undoubtedly the most difficult and easily broken travel health rules are those governing the consumption of food and water. One would do well to remember that the stomach plays an integral part in our biology and should be treated with the same care as the rest of the body. By following the rules you maybe able to avoid a holiday spent on porcelain.

  • Eat freshly cooked hot food (physically hot – not spicy hot). If your food is hot and fresh, the risk of contamination is very small. Conversely cold foods such as salads or cold meats can easily be infected with a variety of organisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites.
  • Eat only fresh fruit that you have cleaned and peeled yourself. Cook It, Boil It, Peel It, or Don’t Eat It.
    Avoid lettuce and undercooked shellfish. Oysters, shrimps, prawns and mussels are frequently harvested from infected waters and then mildly steamed in preparation for human consumption. Mild steaming is not sufficient sterilisation and numerous unpleasant pollutants will remain in the fish and ultimately end up in your stomach.
  • Before ordering a meal at the nearest restaurant, make sure that it is clean. See how often tables are cleaned, look at your cutlery and confirm that it is clean.
  • Choose food from the menu that you recognise and make certain all meat is well cooked. Rare or bloody steaks are ill-advised when eating from foreign kitchens. Many travellers insisting on rear meat have returned from their travels carrying unwanted guests such as tapeworms.
  • Never drink tap water, if you are suspicious, do not even brush your teeth with tap water!
  • In regions where the tap water is untreated (smell for chlorine) don’t use ice in your drinks. The ice will probably be made from tap water and may be contaminated.
  • Bottled mineral water (sealed!) is a much safer option.