food and drinks to avoid while traveling

10 Food and Drinks to Avoid While Traveling

Eat Smart, Travel Smart

To ensure your well-being while traveling, we'll look at 10 types of food and drinks you should avoid, including people with allergies, as that can cause more serious issues while away from home. Let's get into it!

1. Street Vendors

While street food can be incredibly tempting, exercise caution when indulging in it, especially in developing countries where hygiene standards may vary. Street vendors may not always adhere to proper food handling practices, which can increase the risk of contamination. If you do choose to sample street food, opt for stalls that have a high turnover of customers and those that cook food to order in front of you, ensuring freshness and minimizing the risk of foodborne illnesses.

2. Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Unpasteurized dairy products, such as cheese made from raw milk, can harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria. These pathogens can cause severe gastrointestinal distress. To stay safe, avoid consuming unpasteurized dairy products while traveling. Instead, opt for pasteurized cheese and other dairy items, which undergo a process that kills harmful bacteria.

3. Raw or Undercooked Meat

While sampling local delicacies, exercise caution with raw or undercooked meat, including dishes like sushi, tartare or rare steaks. These dishes may contain parasites or bacteria like Campylobacter or Salmonella, which can lead to food poisoning. To minimize the risk, choose thoroughly cooked meat dishes, ensuring they are piping hot throughout. This simple step can significantly reduce the chances of falling ill.

4. Moist Food at Room Temperature

Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, making moist food left at room temperature a breeding ground for harmful pathogens. Be wary of buffets, salads, sandwiches and other perishable items that are not adequately chilled or are left exposed for extended periods. Instead, opt for freshly prepared food or items that are stored at the appropriate temperature, reducing the risk of bacterial growth.

5. Fruits and Vegetables That Can't Be Peeled

While fruits and vegetables are essential for a balanced diet, certain varieties can pose a higher risk of contamination, especially if they cannot be peeled. Produce like berries, grapes and lettuce may be difficult to clean thoroughly, potentially harboring harmful bacteria or pesticide residues. Prioritize fruits and vegetables that can be peeled, such as bananas, oranges and avocados, which offer an added layer of protection.

6. Unsterilized Water

One of the most common sources of gastrointestinal distress while traveling is contaminated water. Avoid drinking tap water unless you are confident it is safe. This includes brushing your teeth with tap water, as even a small amount can introduce harmful bacteria into your system. Instead, drink bottled water from sealed containers or use water purifiers or filters to ensure the water is safe for consumption.

7. Ice Cubes

Similar to tap water, ice cubes can also be a potential source of contamination. In many destinations, the water used to make ice cubes may not meet the same hygiene standards as bottled water. Therefore, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming ice in drinks altogether. Opt for beverages served without ice or with ice cubes made from purified water.

8. Locally Made Fruit Juices

While freshly squeezed fruit juices may seem like a healthy choice, they can carry a risk of contamination if proper hygiene practices are not followed. Locally made juices may be prepared using unwashed produce or diluted with unsterilized water. To ensure safety, choose packaged, pasteurized fruit juices or opt for fruits you can peel and consume directly.

9. Fountain Drinks

Fountain drinks, commonly found in self-serve dispensers at fast-food establishments or buffets, may pose a risk of contamination due to improper cleaning practices or exposure to unsanitary conditions. The nozzles and surfaces can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Instead, choose sealed beverages from reliable sources to minimize the chances of exposure to harmful pathogens.

10. Unpasteurized Milk and Cream

Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and cream while traveling. Like unpasteurized dairy products, raw milk and cream can contain bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Ensure that the milk or cream you consume has undergone the pasteurization process, which kills harmful bacteria and makes it safe for consumption.

Final Notes

When we embark on a journey, whether it's a weekend getaway or an exotic vacation, exploring local cuisine is often a highlight of the trip. However, it's crucial to prioritize food safety to avoid falling prey to stomach bugs or foodborne illnesses that can quickly turn a dream vacation into a nightmare.

Exploring new cuisines is undoubtedly one of the joys of traveling, but it's crucial to prioritize your health and well-being. By avoiding certain types of food and drinks, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling ill during your journey. Remember to opt for freshly cooked food, stick to bottled or purified water and prioritize reputable establishments that prioritize food safety. Bon appétit and safe travels!

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