Street Food Safety Tips
A big part of immersing yourself in your travel adventures is eating the local food – and sometimes that means street food!
What is street food? Street food is often a blanket term for quick meals or finger food served from a cart alongside busy streets. It could also mean food served at a day or night market from stalls or trucks. Street food can be the most authentic and delicious cuisines you’ll find on your travels, so we don’t recommend avoiding it completely – but there are steps to take to ensure that the street food you’re indulging in won’t cause complications to your health (and therefore, holiday!)
A busy food stall is a good sign
Remember that nothing says ‘good food alert’ than a busy stall. This could mean one of two things: a lot of people know about it from reviews, blogs and word of mouth. Or people are there on a repeat visit, indicating that the food they had the first time round, was, in fact, delicious! It’s a bonus if the stall also seems full of locals- people wouldn’t be coming back time and time again unless the food was great – and safe!
Avoid uncooked veggies and unpeeled fruit
As much as we love to recommend staying healthy while on your travels and getting as much fruit and veg in as possible – exercise caution around veggies that are uncooked or unpeeled fruit. This is largely due to the water quality used to wash the produce– often, the water used for washing may be unsafe for drinking, meaning bacteria that could cause illness can remain on the produce you’re about to eat.
Cooked veggies ensure that any remaining bacteria are killed prior to eating, and the skin of the fruit provides that protective barrier – a good way to minimise your risk of falling ill!
Approach seafood cautiously
Trying delicious seafood may be a highlight of your travels – and rightly so, the abundance of fresh fish and shellfish in many holiday destinations means it is an ideal choice for a tasty dinner! But, when opting for seafood street food, consider a few points: Am I anywhere near an ocean or body of water where this food may have been caught? Does it look like the seafood is freshly cooked? Has it been stored correctly, or perhaps it’s been sitting out in the heat?
Use your judgement – if you’re in a hot city square, miles from the ocean, and that calamari looks like it may have been sitting out on the street food cart for more than a few hours – best to skip the seafood temptation this time!
Stick to the local delicacies
So, you’re spending your time exploring India, and one of the street food stalls is advertising American Burgers! It’s been while since you’ve had some western cuisine and it’s tempting to indulge… But wait… and think for a moment. Remember, locals are best at preparing, cooking, and serving their local cuisine. They’ve likely been making the same delicacies for years and have mastered the art of creating a delicious meal. A burger street food stall, though, may still be learning the ways of properly storing and cooking beef patties, for example, so there could be a heightened risk of unsafe practices.
Take preventative supplements
While nothing can guarantee protection against falling ill on your holiday, there are some supplements you could consider to increase your chances of staying healthy on your next holiday. Digestive enzymes, activated charcoal, probiotics and Vitamin C are all great options to explore if you’re looking to add a supplement to your regime to support your health, alongside other gut health supplements. Remember to do your own research to check that any supplements you choose are safe and right for your needs.
If you fall sick with food poisoning – follow these tips
- Seek medical attention if required - If symptoms are severe, persistent, or worsening, it's crucial to seek medical attention. Severe dehydration or certain bacterial infections may require medical intervention.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration – drink plenty of clear fluids, ideally water, but you could also add oral rehydration solutions. Sip fluids slowly to avoid overwhelming your delicate stomach.
- Eat bland foods and hydrate - when you’re ready to eat solids, start with clear broths, crackers, bananas or plain rice. Gradually introduce more solid foods as you recover.
- Rest – it’s tempting to push on with the holiday as planned – but allow yourself to take time out to rest. Choose less strenuous excursions or take a few days to chill in your hotel room. Your health will thank you for it!
Relishing street food can enhance your travel experience, but safety is key. By choosing vendors wisely, practicing good hygiene, and trusting your instincts, you can indulge in local flavours without compromising your well-being. Happy and delicious travels ahead!
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