Your no-nonsense guide to preventing 'traveller's tummy' on your next vacay

If you're heading off on vacation this summer it is worth being aware of some food safety tips while away, so a traveler's tummy doesn't ruin your relaxing holiday


Unclean food and water can cause travelers' diarrhea and other diseases, with areas of Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, posing a particularly high risk. Areas of Eastern Europe and a few Caribbean islands also pose some risks. However you can reduce your chances of illness by sticking to the following safe food and water habits.

Pay attention to the temperature

  • Only eat food that is cooked and served hot.
  • Avoid all food that is served at room temperature including sauces and buffet offerings.
  • Steer away from food from street vendors.

Be careful with water

  • Choose disinfected water or bottled water that is sealed.
  • Do not refill bottles with or drink tap water or well water.
  • Avoid ice made with tap or well water and if unsure, ask for drinks without ice.
  • Remember to keep your mouth closed while showering.
  • Use bottled water to clean your teeth.
  • Order hot drinks such as tea and coffee but make sure they are steaming hot.

Make pasteurised dairy a rule

  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy, including ice cream.
  • Choose only pasteurised products and drink only pasteurised milk.
  • Ask for eggs to be hard-cooked and do not eat raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs.

Follow some fruit and vegetable advice

  • Fruits and vegetables are ok to eat but make sure you have washed them in clean water or peeled them yourself first, peelable fruits such as bananas, oranges and avocados are good choices.
  • Be wary of fruit salads and sliced fruits which may have been washed by someone else in tap water.

Don't take risks with meat and fish

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish or shellfish.
  • Avoid "bushmeat" (monkeys, bats, or other wild game) no matter how it is cooked.

Take medicine

  • Talk with your doctor about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs with you on your trip in case you get sick.
  • Also ask your doctor about how to prevent traveler's tummy. As a preventive measure, some doctors suggest taking bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), which has been shown to decrease the likelihood of diarrhea. However, don't take this medication for longer than three weeks, and don't take it at all if you're pregnant, allergic to aspirin, or taking certain medications, such as anticoagulants.

For more information on food safety abroad by country, as well as preventive measures and treatments head to the Center for Disease Control and the Mayo Clinic websites.

This article was originally published on AFP Relaxnews.