A lot of people suffer from upset stomach and other related illness by consuming unsafe water and food while traveling. A few people are blessed with iron stomach and immune system better than Terminator. But for rest of us, a lot of effort is spent on not getting sick whenever we step outside our homes for any period of time.
This issue is of particular importance for people who are traveling to foreign countries. You will find different notions of hygiene, cleanliness and even different pests and germs in different places. For example, communicable diseases like malaria are almost completely eradicated in western world, but they still claims hundreds of thousands of lives in many other countries. Although, this topic can be written about in a very detailed manner, time and space constraints dictate that I limit this article to basic precautions related to water and food safety only. Although, this article is written with India in mind, these are some general instructions which hold true almost everywhere. So let’s begin with
Taking even basic precautions related to food safety and hygiene can save you a lot of trouble. High end restaurants and hotels are considered cleaner than most road-side street food vendors. But this is not true everywhere in very case. One such case in example is freshness of ingredients used. A lot of of street food vendors prepare their dishes earlier in day or during the work hours and serve them as fresh as possible. Meanwhile, restaurants usually prepare large quantities of their most popular food items or ingredients and store them in refrigerators to be heated up just before serving.
Here are some points for you to keep in mind when eating food in India or almost anywhere else in the world:
a) Get food only from a recommended and trusted source
Many street food businesses have good reputations among their customers for solid reasons. If you don’t know much, then take advice from your local friends, guides etc . But make sure that they have no commercial stake in recommending you something. Observing the customers is also a good way of making a choice. A good food vendor will have large number of customers compared to a non-trusted one. Food safety is always important to good vendors.
Most street food vendors use disposable plate, spoons made of plastic, leaves, cane etc. But if metal utensils are being used, ensure that they are clean first. Use your own wipes, napkins etc to clean them if not sure.
c) Do not eat at any place where the food is not covered and exposed to dust and flies.
These are major source of germs and observing this basic food safety precaution alone can save you from lots of trouble
d) Have fresh food
In some places, the food you ask for is prepared right in front of you out of semi-prepared ingredients. Not every vendor brings 100 % read to eat food with him. So, if you see food cooking before being served, it’s very likely that it’ll be fresh. A good food vendor will usually pay heed to your requests and prepare the food exactly to your requirements. But if there are other people waiting, he may have to pay more attention to others.
e) Precautions related to food are can be very confusing.
People may follow all the hygiene and cleanliness related precautions, but may still suffer from an upset stomach due to some unknown food intolerance or allergy they did not knew about earlier. It can be really difficult to avoid such incidents. In case you know about your food intolerance and allergies, confirm with the vendor before consuming anything. If that’s not possible , try only small portions to check whether you are okay with it. If you have no side-effects and like the dish, go on to enjoy larger portion. Also, always keep a basic first aid kit consisting of a few medicines for an upset stomach, antacid, antihistamines etc.
Water Safety Rules For Travelers
Contaminated water causes biggest source of preventable infectious diseases worldwide. A number of potentially fatal infectious diseases can be prevented from spreading by just using clean water. Fortunately for travelers, it’s pretty easy almost everywhere. One of the most convenient solutions is to use branded bottled water. It’s easily available almost everywhere and comparatively easily. Some people consider it expensive. It is if you consider that it’s just ordinary water, but considering the alternative of spending so much money on medicines, it’s good enough. Even with bottled water, make sure that you buy only the original brands and properly sealed bottles. If in doubt, leave it and buy it from some place else.
But what happens when you are in a place with no bottled water ? Unless you are near a river source with clear fast moving water, glacier etc. you have to boil and filter before drinking. You can use water purifying tablets or drops. Sometimes it causes slight change in taste of water but most people will accept it.
Portable filters are another option. There are many types of big and small filters available in market. One portable filter as big as a pen and is used as one would use a straw. It’s very lightweight and small and can be carried in a pocket. Additionally, you can use bottles which come with water filter already fitted in. Most of other filters are are usually too big to lug around comfortably. If you are not carrying your own water filter, then best option to quench thirst are bottled water, juice or soft drinks, in that order.
We hope this article may help you keep safe while traveling in India. Contact us for any feedback or information.