Travel Vaccines - International Travel Vaccines Centre
Food safety when travelling
Travel Vaccines - International Travel Vaccines Centre

Food safety when travelling

Tasting the local cuisine is often something travellers look forward to when going overseas, however your chances of getting food poisoning is increased when eating foreign foods. Some countries don’t have the stringent hygiene and food safety practices we have here in Australia, putting you at risk of food safety hazards such as food and water borne bacteria, parasites and viruses.

Consuming contaminated food can lead to traveller’s diarrhoea, salmonella, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, typhoid fever, cholera and more.

Don’t spoil your trip by getting food poisoning or worse, follow these simple tips instead.

The old adage stands true: Cook it, peel it or leave it!

PERSONAL HYGEINE

Bacteria can be carried by your hands to your mouth. Make sure you wash your hands with soap under clean running water before eating meals. If clean running water or soap isn’t available at your travel destination, pack a bottle of alcohol-based hand rub or disposable anti-bacterial cleaning wipes to clean your hands before meals.

Download the WHO posters for hand washing and hand rubbing for guidance on the best way to clean your hands.

Avoid brushing your teeth with dirty or contaminated water. If in doubt, choose a water source based on the tips below when brushing and flossing those pearly whites.

TIPS FOR DRINKING FLUIDS SAFELY

There are few basic tips for drinking fluids on your trip that can help reduce the chances of you getting sick overseas:

  • Always stick to boiled or bottle water. Simply bringing the water to the boil, where you can see large bubbles, should be enough to kill most organisms. For bottled water, make sure the seal is unbroken and the water is from a reliable source. Refilled bottles or bottles which have no lid or have been left open for a while are a no go.

  • Pack a small modern water purifier. Used correctly, modern water purifiers will reduce the organic material and organisms in the water enough to make the water safe to drink.

  • Pack chemical water treatment tablets such as iodine-based drinking water tablets. If the instructions are followed correctly these will help clean the water unless the water is cloudy or contaminated with organic matter or dirt. In those cases the water purifier is your best option.

  • Drinking bottle or can drinks such as soft drinks, beers, wines and spirits (especially international brands) will be low risk; however you need to make sure you don’t have any ice with them.

  • Avoid ice cubes they may be made out of contaminated water.

TRAVELLING FOOD SAFETY TIPS

You don't have to miss out on the experiences of eating international cuisine when travelling; you just need to ensure you take a few precautions to ensure the food you eat is safe and healthy.

  • Choose food that is freshly cooked such as fried, boiled or steamed meals.

  • Select peelable fruits such as citrus and bananas and peel them yourself.

  • Choose foods that come in sealed packs or cans and are made by reputable brands.

  • Make sure your crockery and cutlery are clean. If in doubt, take your own cutlery.

  • Cook and prepare your own meals from safe, fresh ingredients.

  • Choose restaurants that are well patronised and popular for their local food.

  • If you are in a country that typically eats marinated raw fish (eg. sushi in Japan, cervish and tiradito in Peru and South America or kok(n)da in the South Pacific), make sure the fish is raw deep sea fish as marinade does not destroy bacteria, avoid freshwater fish prepared in these manners.

Here is a list of foods to avoid when travelling as these foods carry a higher risk of making travellers ill.

  • Raw, undercooked or reheated food.

  • Raw seafood and shelled seafood such as oysters, clams, mussels, prawns or mud crabs as they carry higher risks.

  • Raw or undercooked eggs.

  • Salads and cold meats.

  • Fruits and vegetables that can’t be peeled

  • Unpasteurised dairy products - be careful as not all milk and cheese is pasteurised.

  • Ice cream unless internationally packaged and branded

  • Dishes that require a lot of food preparation and handling

  • Food that has been left around for a while or has been exposed to flies.

The travel advice above references and acknowledges advice from the CDC, WHO and NSW Health.

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About Us

Your health when you go overseas is important - whether you are travelling on a holiday, visiting your friends and relatives, going on a business trip or looking for adventure. Getting individual care and advice based on your itinerary can ensure you have a good trip and come home healthy.

The International Travel Vaccination Centre (ITVC) is a well established travel vaccination centre with over 15 years experience. We provide a full vaccination service and are Yellow Fever accredited.

Our doctors have completed the Certificate of Travel Health through the International Society of Travel Medicine (ITSM) and are specialised in delivering travel health and vaccination advice.

 

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