Eating and Drinking Safely Abroad - How to Stay Healthy

Enjoying the culinary delights of a foreign country can be a highlight of your holiday, but it can also cut it short.

The world is full of unusual food and drink, and trying something different can make a trip even more memorable. There's no need to shy away from exotic dishes, so long as you know they have been cooked properly.

By eating and drinking sensibly, and adopting good hygiene practices, you can limit your chances of getting sick and spend more time enjoying your holiday.

Things to remember about eating and drinking abroad:

  • Drink bottled water to avoid water-borne diseases - ensure the lid of the bottle is well sealed before you buy it
  • If you can't get bottled water, boil tap water, use chlorine tablets or iodine to sterilise it. Avoid prolonged exposure to iodine
  • Don't have ice cubes in your drinks as they have probably been made from untreated tap water
  • Don't drink too much alcohol in hot climates as it could lead to dehydration
  • Don't accept a drink from a stranger - you never know what might be in it
  • Wash your hands after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food - it might sound obvious, but hygiene habits can sometimes slip when you are on holiday
  • Take an alcohol-based hand gel to wash your hands on the go
  • Ensure cooked food is piping hot throughout before eating
  • Avoid eating cooked food that has been left to hang around
  • Only eat raw fruit and vegetables that you have peeled yourself
  • Don't eat food that has flies buzzing around it
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood
  • Don't eat tropical reef fish as if it hasn't been cooked properly, you might suffer from ciguatera fish poisoning
  • Avoid dairy products that haven't been pasteurised. It's likely that ice cream from a street corner will not have been pasteurised
  • Avoid food from street vendors as it may have been prepared in an unhygienic environment

Food and drink, particularly in developing countries, can harbour germs and diseases such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A. More commonly, travellers can suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea after ingesting contaminated food or drink.

By following these simple steps, you can minimise your chances of getting holiday tummy, and you can continue enjoying the treats on offer around you.