With summer approaching, many of you may well be planning to travel abroad. Travelling can be exciting and rewarding, but can also carry potential risks. Contaminated water or food can cause a variety of diseases that range from mild and short-lived symptoms (e.g. vomiting, diarrhoea) to longer and more severe diseases (e.g. cholera, hepatitis A). Travellers should remain vigilant when abroad and take the following precautionary measures to prevent food- or water-borne illness.
Dangerous microorganisms are present in the environment and can be carried on hands and transferred to food.
- Wash hands thoroughly before handling and consuming food.
- Wash food with safe water.
Choose Safe Beverages and Food
Water (including ice) and raw food can be contaminated with dangerous microorganisms. Toxins may also be formed in damaged and mouldy food.
Water and Beverages
- Drink only boiled water and beverages made with boiled water whenever possible.
- If boiling is not possible, other methods to purify water may be considered.
- Ice should be avoided in drinks if in doubt about its source or hygienic conditions.
- Beverages which are either bottled or otherwise packed are usually safe to drink. Wipe clean and dry the packaging before opening.
- Buy food from hygienic and reliable premises. Do not buy food from street vendors or other food outlets with poor environmental sanitation or seen with improper food handling.
- Make sure food has been thoroughly cooked and is still hot when served.
- Avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
- Peel fruits and vegetables if they are to be eaten raw. Avoid those with damaged skin.
- Avoid unpasteurised milk and milk products (e.g. cheeses).
- Pay attention to expiry date when purchasing food.
Keep Food at Safe Temperatures
Food held at room temperature for long hours allow pathogens to grow and produce toxin.
- Avoid cooked food or ready-to-eat food that has been kept at room temperature for several hours.
- Avoid food at buffets, markets, restaurants and street vendor if they are not kept hot (above 60 ºC) or refrigerated (at or below 4 ºC).
- Keep perishable food at 4 ºC or below if they are not consumed immediately.
- Read and follow storage instructions on food labels.