A big fear many parents have is about the hygiene of foods and drinks in developing countries. Even doctors specializing in travel medicine recommend to be extra careful with those. I wrote here the ways we deal with it.
- Many of the worst diseases originate in water.
2. That’s why I always go under the assumption that the water anywhere is not fit for drinking. Not taking any chances.
3. The most effective way to disinfect water is by boiling.
4. That’s why any dish containing water must be well boiled.
5. Drinking water- you can find different qualities of drinking water anywhere. From mineral water from abroad to locally treated and disinfected. Buy a few types, pick the one you like best and stick with it. And of course, pay attention to the lid signature.
6. Juices- fresh fruit juice is one of the ways to keep the kids healthy. It’s important to make sure they don’t mix it with water or ice. Also, pay attention to how clean the dishes are.
7. Cold drinks- sodas and the likes are perfectly safe to drink.
8. Hot drinks- usually there’s nothing to fear, the water is well boiled and even if they add milk- they boil that too for you.
- The best way to disinfect food is by boiling.
2. That’s why it’s always better to eat food that was cooked in high temperatures, baked or well fried.
3. Meat is one of the biggest sources of disease, that’s why rule no.2 is twice as important if you’re going to eat meat. Don’t eat meat that hasn’t been well coocked!
4. You don’t have to eat meat.
5.Eggs- go under the assumption that the Eggs have been fertilized. If that doesn’t bother you, I recommend you to put Eggs in the same category with meat- make sure all parts of the Egg have been well cooked (I don’t order fried, boiled or scrambled Eggs, I order an omelet and ask it to be well done).
6. The locals prefer to be healthy and know all these rules even better than us. True that their digestive system is designed to those conditions, but they’re not immune either.
7.That’s why the local foods are always healthy and nutritious, while keeping to the hygienic rules relevant to that place.
8.On the other hand, it’s the western foods that are made only for the tourists are those that aren’t prepared properly according the hygienic rules and hence have a higher chance of making you sick.
9. In addition, take under consideration that the local food is what the locals cook best. Western food won’t be ‘like home’, and especially the meat- not always worth the risk (depending of course on the destination of your trip)..
10. In short, it’s recommended to just order the local food.
11. Another important detail- people are always warning of the cooling and keeping conditions of the food, but in local restaurants they never prepare food in advance. They only start to make it when they get an order. It takes a while (take a deck of cards with you J)… but together with that you can be sure the food is the freshest it can be.
Fruits and vegetables:
- Fruits and vegetables that were watered with polluted water are not recommended to eat, because their peel is contaminated.
2. That’s why you have to make sure they were properly cooked.
3. Or properly peeled..
4. Or properly washed..
5. If there’s no way to wash/cook you should always pick the fruits or vegetables with a thick peel (Papayas, Oranges, Coconuts, Pineapples, Bananas). And those that grow on trees/bushes and not on the ground.
6. Many restaurants in touristic areas are aware of the problem and clearly mention that they wash their fruits and vegetables with disinfectant (iodine usually). Even with that, I don’t take risks and don’t allow the kids to eat fruits and vegetables that aren’t peeled.
Buying snacks or packed food:
- One thing you have to remember: pay attention to the expiry date. If that’s not written, or if it’s expired, DON’T BUY!
Eating at food stands:
- Usually their food is very fresh (and tasty!), they always make it that same day.
2. In large, the rules are the same rules, don’t forget them.
3. Pay attention how many locals eat from that stand. Don’t buy from an empty stand.
4. Pay attention to their utilities and where they sharpen their knives (there are stand owners that sharpen their knives against the sidewalk..).
5. Don’t forget to ask a number of times ‘not spicy’.
6. Or come with a ready-to-pull bottle of waterJ.
7. It’s best to come with your own disposable utilities.
8. And yet, I wouldn’t eat meat in stands.
- The utilities are washed with regular water, usually with soap..
2. They have a different way of washing dishes: they soak the dishes in a big bowl full of water, then scrub with soap, wash and leave in the sun.
3. Their use of the sun is not only to dry but also to disinfect.
4. They serve the silverware on a plate.
5. Table cleaning: oh well, it’s usually not very clean. You can ask them to clean, you can use a wet wipe yourself, or you can simply not mix the silverware with the table.
6. You don’t have to use glasses, drink straight from the bottle..
7. You can buy a packet of straws and drink through them for maximal hygiene.
8. Remember to wash your hands before every meal.
- Wash your hands before every meal.
2. Prefer local foods.
3. Cooked in high temperatures.
4. always suspect the water. Drink only purified water/fresh juice/sodas/hot drinks
5. Check the date of expiry on all packaged snacks.
It looks complicated but within a few days you get used to these rules and they become habit. Even the kids learn fast and the rules become a part of their life. they don’t even think about it anymore.