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How to avoid food poisoning when traveling

Food is one of the best parts of traveling abroad. Don’t let it become the reason your trip is cut short

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There are ways to minimize the chance of getting food poisoning while traveling, according to the CDC.

There are ways to minimize the chance of getting food poisoning while traveling, according to the CDC.


With the summer approaching, it may be the perfect time to head out the door and embark on the adventure you’ve always dreamed of: traveling abroad.

When it comes to eating while traveling in other countries, here are some things to keep in mind to make sure your vacation stays stress-free and enjoyable.

Avoiding food poisoning

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said food poisoning, or illnesses caused from digesting germs within foods, can be avoided by practicing food and drink safety when traveling.

Foods usually safe to eat are dry, packaged or served while hot.

According to the CDC, “Most germs require moisture to grow, so foods that are dry, such as potato chips, are usually safe,” and “high heat kills most of the germs that cause travelers’ diarrhea.”

The article also lists safe beverages to drink while abroad. They include:

  • Unopened, factory-sealed bottles or cans.
  • Hot or steaming drinks.
  • Pasteurized milk from a sealed container.

The CDC said to be wary of anything served warm or at room temperature, raw foods, street vendor foods, tap water, ice, fountain drinks, freshly squeezed juice and meats you may not have eaten before.

The Harvard Global Support Services said though eating from street vendors is popular, food safety practices can vary depending on the vendor, which means a higher risk of germs in the food.

Prior to the trip, National Geographic suggests being prepared ahead of time by packing electrolyte powders, water purification tablets, hand sanitizer and medications meant to help nausea or diarrhea.

Food poisoning

“Each year, 1 in 6 Americans and nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide suffer from such illnesses caused by bacteria (E. coli, salmonella, listeria), viruses (norovirus, hepatitis A) or parasites (giardiasis, roundworms, tapeworms),” National Geographic said.

The Mayo Clinic lists symptoms of food poisoning, which include an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and a headache.

The clinic suggests seeking out a health care professional or emergency care if more dire symptoms surface, such as:

  • Little urination.
  • Irregular changes in behavior or thinking.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Black or bloody stools.

Dr. Cindy Chung of Kaiser San Rafael Pediatrics in California told National Geographic that if a patient has bloody stools, they may receive “azithromycin (Zithromax) because, with traveling, one of the most common bacteria is E. coli.”


“Replacing lost fluids and electrolytes is the most important treatment for food poisoning,” The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said.

The article said important minerals and electrolytes meant to replenish your body can be found in water, fruit juices, sports drinks, broths and saltines.

The Mayo Clinic said in most cases, drug treatment is not necessary for food poisoning. When it is, the drugs suggested for treatment include probiotics, antibiotics and antiparasitics.