Most people say they wouldn’t grab a bite from a street cart. But, most of us have done so when we’re starving and pressed for time. So, here are some safety tips and things you need to know to stay healthy.
Dairy is a major cause of food poisoning, so avoid it from the street vendors. It’s difficult to sue people in a foreign country, so even if you do get sick, you may or may not be able to file a claim with the local authorities. Your best bet is to avoid, avoid, avoid.
In countries where the milk is fresh, don’t drink it. It’s impossible to verify that it’s been handled well, and it can be a source of some really nasty – even life threatening – bacteria. Even when you know the milk is pasteurized, it can go bad quickly.
Buy Only Sealed Bottled Water
If you buy water, bring your own non-potable filter or drink bottled water. Non-filtered water can be problematic for tourists, especially if the country you’re visiting doesn’t have the same sanitation standards as your home country.
Before you take a sip, inspect the top. Is the seal broken? If so, don’t drink it. If you’re just not sure about the water in the country where you’ll be, buy a non-potable water filter to take with you before you leave your home country.
Put Ice In Drinks, But Only If It’s Filtered
Ice can be another source for food poisoning. Weird, right? Like water, if the ice was not made from filtered water, then you have no idea what’s lurking inside. Avoid or verify that the water is from filters.
Avoid Bleached Coconuts
Bleached coconuts are popular in touristy spots because coconuts:
1) are hard to crack open and;
2) fresh coconuts that have been stripped of the outer shell look more appealing but don’t last long.
So, some street vendors bleach the coconut with a solution – a solution that might make you very sick. If the coconuts look too white, they’ve probably been treated. If you’re unsure of the coconut status, skip it. It’s not worth three days torture.
Fresh salads seem like a good idea, and they can be, but they can also make you very sick. Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers from street vendors should be strictly avoided, because they probably used tap water to clean the salad. This problem is compounded by the fact that you don’t know how good a job they did cleaning the salad in the first place.
Eat Vegetarian Foods
This one sounds counterintuitive if you’re a meat-eater, but many countries either have food laws or the locals have religious beliefs that keep them from eating much (if any) meat. This means that meat is kept on carts for tourists. It also means that the meat may have been sitting around for a bit too long.
This is especially true for places like India, where meat is all but unheard of.
Rhys Richards is an emergency medical technician. He likes to write about health topics on the web. His articles appear mainly on health websites.