Taking Care While Traveling
Avoiding Food Poisoning and Other Illnesses While Traveling
Thirty to 70 percent of travelers are forced to bring their vacation to a screeching halt due to the sudden onset of food poisoning. In some instances, symptoms may begin to surface within hours of eating the contaminated food.
For retirees who enjoy traveling this can be especially harmful, as food poisoning can cause many long-term problems in older adults. Where a younger person could recover quickly, an older person has a harder time fighting the illness.
Prevention is key when dealing with foodborne illness. So while traveling, be mindful and avoid these foods to further your prevention methods:
- Rare and raw meat and poultry
- Raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish and bean sprouts
- Cookie dough, homemade ice cream, cake batter, or any other food or beverage that may contain raw or undercooked eggs
- Soft cheeses like feta, Camembert, Brie, any blue-veined cheese or unpasteurized cheese
- Uncooked luncheon meat, deli meat and hot dogs
- Pates or meat spreads
The focus of food poisoning is usually concentrated on the meals consumed while traveling, but unsafe beverages are equally responsible for causing the illness. When exploring the world, here are a few tips to consider:
Skip the Buffet
Regardless of where you are, buffet-style settings typically serve dishes that are frequently reheated and left sitting out for long periods of time, posing a greater risk of contamination.
This includes, but isn’t limited to, meats, dairy products, soups, salads and sauces.
Instead, opt for meals that are freshly prepared and served hot to order.
Street Vendor Temptation
While you’re caught up in the beautiful atmosphere of an exotic new location, it’s easy to be tempted to submerge yourself in the country’s culture. Purchasing food from street vendors is usually a part of the package.
Unfortunately, health officials advise you to steer clear of foods offered by vendors on the street for the same reasons buffets should be avoided.
You may wish to maintain your diet while you’re traveling, but doing so may put you at risk. Stick to fruits and vegetables you are able to peel on your own when you’re away from home.
Bananas, avocados and oranges are all safe examples. Grapes, berries, lettuce, and other sliced or unpeeled fruits and vegetables may have been washed in contaminated water, increasing your risk of developing foodborne illness.
Bottled Is Best
Using bottled water for drinking, mixing baby formula, or brushing your teeth is your safest option. Avoid water that comes from a tap, well or stream at any cost.
If you absolutely must drink water from local sources, boil it for at least three minutes before consuming. All coffee or tea should be piping hot before you drink it.
Do not request ice cubes in your drink for risk of it being made from contaminated sources. Any beverage you can open and break the seal yourself is safe to drink after you’ve wiped off the rim or mouthpiece.
Before swimming in local water supplies, check with an official or tour guide to verify the water is safe. Keep your mouth closed the entire time, even when rinsing off in the shower.
The microorganisms that cause food poisoning can penetrate your body in a number of ways.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out and explore the world — it only means that you should take the necessary precautions to be safe.
If you are planning to head to a location with a high risk of contaminated food, it may be best for you to plan ahead. Doctors suggest taking bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) with you on your trip.
The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol greatly reduces your chances of developing traveler’s diarrhea if two liquid ounces or two chewable tablets are taken four times every day while you are away. Dropping from a 40 percent to 14 percent risk of getting sick, it’s worth the extra luggage space.
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