Safe food and drink
Contaminated food and water can make you sick as a dog but with a few simple rules, you can stay happy and healthy on your jollies.
- Certain foods are more likely to carry bugs and toxins, but preparation and storage may be important safety factors too.
- Wash your hands before eating, so simple and yet so effective.
- In general, when travelling in very hot countries, avoid salads, raw vegetables and fruit you haven't prepared yourself, as well as most dairy products (especially if unpasteurised).
- If you want to eat fruit, wash it in clean water and peel it. Cover prepared food to keep flies off, and don't leave anything you've cooked lukewarm and standing around for too long.
- Avoid under-cooked meat, fish and shellfish. It can contain bacteria, viruses, toxins, and parasites.
- If in doubt, avoid buying food from street vendors, who are usually unregulated.
- If it isn't safe to drink the tap water where you're staying, it isn't safe to have ice made from it, clean your contact lenses in it, or brush your teeth with it.
- If you're not in a clean water area, make sure mineral water and soft drinks bottles are opened in front of you in bars and restaurants. Some unscrupulous vendors may be refilling old bottles with tap water and selling it at a premium.
- Should you doubt the safety of the water on offer, go for fizzy drinks, tea, or even beer (but beware of dehydration). If drinking glasses don't look clean, wipe the edge of the bottle or can and drink straight from it.
- There are several things you can do to purify water. You can boil it for ten minutes, filter it, then use it within twelve hours. You can add purifying tablets (available from the chemist) and leave the container sealed until they have taken effect. Or you can buy an iodine resin water purifier. Iodine tincture is sometimes used too, but is not safe to use for long periods.
- Use safe water if you are washing fruit or preparing salad.
- No matter how tempting it looks, don't drink water from wells or rivers unless you take full precautions to purify it first.
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!