If your holiday revolves around eating and drinking, there are a few things you need to consider as, each year, millions of Australians get sick from contaminated food.
A few of the most common food-borne illnesses include traveller’s diarrhoea as well as more serious diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid and cholera — all of which can cause serious health issues.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the local cuisine. So with the help of Brisbane-based nutritionist Alessandra Trovato, we’ve compiled a list on what not to eat and drink while travelling overseas. Here are a few examples:
Unsafe drinking water is one of the leading causes of health problems for holiday-makers, and can cause anything from gastroenteritis to hepatitis A and some parasites.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid tap water and instead drink water from a sealed bottle. Meanwhile, when ordering drinks out, Trovato says to steer clear of ice cubes, as the ice in your drink could be made from contaminated water.
“[This] is the safest way to avoid consuming contaminated water,” she says.
Consuming raw or minimally cooked meat or seafood can pose a danger to your overall health while holidaying abroad, as these foods are more likely to contain germs that may end up making you sick, Trovato explains.
“Even in developed countries, undercooked or raw meat [or] seafood (including seafood which has been ‘cooked’ with citrus juice or vinegar) should always be avoided,” she adds.
When travelling abroad, avoid dishes which have been reheated, as these foods carry a higher risk of making travellers ill.
“The constant reheating and dethawing of food can produce harmful bacteria which can cause serious illness,” Trovato explains.
To prevent spending your holiday sick in bed, it’s also best to avoid salads, as many restaurants wash their lettuce and salad veggies through contaminated tap water.
Meanwhile, if you must get your salad fix, be sure to purchase one that is pre-packaged and hasn’t been washed with tap water, Trovato explains, adding: “… fresh lettuce always carries the risk of contamination with bacteria such as E. coli.”
If you have a weakened immune system, avoid unpasteurised dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese.
According to Trovato, these products may contain harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, E. coil and listeria — “all of which can cause serious illness and in some cases can also be life threatening”.
As a general rule, raw fruits and vegetables without peels should also be avoided, as they may have been exposed to unsafe water, Trovato explains. However, fruits and vegetables that you can peel yourself are fine to eat.