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I know my story is enough for anyone not to want to touch street food with even a ten-foot pole, but there were several things I did wrong to cause myself to get sick. When taking the right precautions, street food can be rather safe and enjoyable.
If you go where all the locals eat, chances are they know the difference between good and bad food. Locals will lead you in the right direction of safe, delicious, and properly sanitized and prepared food.
When ordering street food, make sure the meat is cooked right in front of you. You have no idea how long that food has been sitting out collecting bacteria; you don’t want to risk it!
Sometimes even watching your food in front of you isn’t enough, you’ve got to make sure it’s fully cooked too! One example I have is when Dustin and I went to the Philippines. He ordered a chicken salad from our hotel restaurant. Being super hungry, he started chowing down as soon as the chicken salad as soon as it showed up in front of him. After several bites, I took one look at it and said, “babe, your chicken is still pink.” And sure enough, the chicken was not cooked thoroughly with the inside still being completely raw.
Generally speaking, you can determine the purity of the food by the cleanliness of the tools they use to prepare it. If you notice dirty cooking utensils or dirty food-preparation surfaces, you can almost guarantee that the food won’t be clean either.
In most places, tap water is not safe to consume. With that, be mindful of drinks with ice or sauces prepared with tap water as they can be contaminated too.
Also, it’s best to stick with ones that have peels. That way, you can peel off the skin that may be harboring bacteria, fertilizing chemicals, and dirt and get to the clean, untainted fruit.
Buffet-style food was the ultimate mistake leading to the incident in Laos. To avoid food poisoning while traveling, don’t do what my friend and I did. Stick to foods freshly prepared.
Before consuming any food, be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water thoroughly. You don’t want anything on your hands touching what you’re putting in your mouth.
Dairy has a very high risk of being contaminated with harmful bacteria, as most of it is cultured with live organisms. It’s best to avoid dairy if possible.
When all else fails, and you can’t find a single place to eat that isn’t questionable, make sure to have at least a couple of travel snacks on you!
There are several methods to doing this, including LifeStraw and water purifying tablets. Although not particularly suitable for the environment, bottled water is a healthy alternative if you don’t have any way of cleansing the tap water.
Anything like runny eggs, raw oysters, sushi, and ceviche can be a significant source of foodborne illness.
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Oh goodness! I’m so sorry you had to experience that on your trip. This is good information for people to be aware of though.
Yes, absolutely! Learn from my mistakes! LOL
This is so great! I love your tips to experience the culture, but be safe at the same time! I had food poisoning once while traveling and it was awful!!!
Both my hubby and I have experienced food poisoning during our travels and it is awful! Thanks for all the great tips on avoiding it! It is an awful thing to go through!!
I absolutely HATE tummy troubles, so I’m so grateful for these helpful tips. I’m already leery of buffets anywhere in the world and am a frequent hand washer, but wouldn’t have thought about the drinking water!
Travelers Tummy is the worst! I’ve learned to ask my doctor for a prescription before I go, just in case. Good tips on trying to avoid it in the first place.
Very relatable, I didn’t know that tip about dairy though. I’m about to go on a 1.5 month trip and really watching out for some of the tips you mentioned like not eating raw vegetables. But aren’t those night markets generally supposed to be okay? like in thailand nothing happened to me but i can see how they can be unhygenic…