One of the joys of traveling, whether in the United States or a foreign country, is to explore new foods in the area. This is a wonderful way to explore the culture of a new country or an unfamiliar area in the US. However, there are a few guidelines that everyone should follow to prevent anyone from getting sick. It won’t take the spontaneous adventure out of your trip if you keep these measures in the back of your mind as you explore.
An upset tummy can put a dent in everyone’s enjoyment. The most common ailment for travelers is the diarrhea brought on by microbes that the body may not be familiar with. Those most at risk are young family members and people over 65. But there are easy and commonsense steps to prevent this from happening, so don’t be deterred from sampling new foods as long as you do it safely.
While this is an issue that primarily arises in foreign countries, remember always to drink purified or spring water – this includes ice in your beverage. If you are unsure, ask. And note that even clean water may contain heavier mineral deposits that your body is not used to – the Yucatan area of Mexico is an example of this “too much goodness” in the water.
Wash Your Food
Choosing accommodations with your own kitchen such as these apartments for rent in McKinney helps to enjoy the fresh foods of the place you’re visiting – it’s also fun to try to make the local specialty yourself. Great places usually have great fresh markets too, but both south and north of the border, you should wash fruits and vegetables with products made for this – which you can even make yourself.
Even “clean” parts of the world may have pesticide residues. Accommodations such as the Gatlinburg cabins of the Smoky Mountains in the USA have experienced large upticks since the pandemic as travelers seek their own kitchens. And Mexico travelers have long used products that are safe to rinse fruit and veggies and that don’t need to be rinsed off, which helps if the water is dubious.
Use Your Senses
Your nose can alert you to any potential hazards. Does the food have an “off” smell or doesn’t seem fresh? It’s best to try another restaurant. Your eyes can tell you much also. If you’re at a street food cart or open restaurant, watch how your meal is prepared. Are staff members washing their hands, especially between handling raw and cooked products? Do servers have artificial dirty nails? Those are signs that you need to try another place.
Another big signal is if the staff are wearing dirty or stained clothing. Are there pans of water or running water to clean utensils and plates? Is the prep area clean and organized? Is the person cooking the food also handling money? All of these activities can transmit unwanted bacteria.
Hot and Cold Foods
Be wary of precooked items that are not refrigerated or held on ice. In the case of street vendors, this may mean that the product has been sitting in the sun for a number of hours. This is particularly true for any products that contain mayonnaise, eggs, or similar products. Hot foods should be kept hot, and cold foods also need to be protected. Seafood and ceviche may be exotic appealing choices, but they must be refrigerated to be safe.
During a hot afternoon, a juice concoction is a wonderful way to cool off and enjoy new flavors. The fruit juice should be squeezed in front of you and there should be adequate refrigeration or cooling available. The best bet is to head toward a juice shop that is in a permanent location. This can also apply to ice cream carts and stands. A permanent shop will provide a higher level of hygiene.
No Running Water
No access to water doesn’t mean that you can’t eat from that particular food stand but be mindful of how the food is handled and the precautions the vendor takes. Sometimes, vendors will cover the work area with plastic wrap. This should be changed after each order. If they use paper, move on. This is too permeable to keep food safe from unwanted bacteria.
Eat at Popular Places
Whether restaurant or street food, it’s best to eat from a place that’s popular with locals. When you see stalls or vendors with full tables or long lines of locals, the risk is lower, because food is continually being freshly cooked and hasn’t been sitting around for hours. Look for Hyde Park top restaurants or food stalls that are filled with locals, not just other tourists.
We all prefer quieter times, but when you find the popular places, wait until other locals are eating. The vendor knows when regulars are going to show up, and prep for those time periods. If you show up after everyone else has eaten, you may be leftover food that was prepared hours earlier. For places that cook raw ingredients in front of you, such as a food cart, realize that eating during off times can mean that those products have been sitting in the sun for a number of hours.
Seawater One of the joys of family traveling is when the kids love to swim – it makes trips easier to pick for sure. If you’re a waterbaby family, everyone will want to jump into the ocean right away, but be sensible and learn the local cautions first. If there’s a possibility for contamination, it may be best to stick to a pool and gaze at the ocean. Swallowing seawater, or going in with open cuts, can produce unpleasant results.
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