Food and Beverage Precautions When Traveling

  Food and Beverage Precautions
Beverage Precautions
  • Assume tap water is unsafe in developing countries. Only boiled or chlorinated water sources offer significant protection against viral and bacterial waterborne disease. Therefore, all water sources, including ice cubes, should be considered contaminated.
  • Canned or bottled carbonated beverages are safe to drink. It may be safer to drink a beverage directly from a can or bottle rather than a questionable container. However, water on the outside of the beverage cans or bottles may be contaminated. You should clean and dry the outside surfaces, which come into contact with the mouth before consuming the beverage.
  • All alcoholic beverages, including wine, beer and liquors, are safe to drink. Ice cubes prepared from contaminated water may not be safe to put in drinks.
  • Steaming hot beverages, such as coffee and tea, are safe to drink.

Food Precautions

  • Avoid raw or poorly cooked fish, shellfish, pork, beef and poultry.
  • Avoid fresh salads and vegetables that are not steaming hot.
  • Consuming food and beverages obtained from street vendors has been associated with an increased risk of illness.
  • Only eat fruit you can peel.
  • Avoid pastries, custards, cold meat and buffet platters with cold salads.
  • Baked goods and candy are generally safe.
  • Prepackaged dehydrated foods and pasteurized or powdered milk are safe.

Water Purification

  • Water of uncertain purity should be treated by either chemicals or heat. If the water is cloudy, strain it through a clean cloth or coffee filter into a clean container to remove any sediment or floating matter. Then, treat the water with chemicals or heat as follows:
    -Chlorine Compound Tablets (Brand Name: Halazone®) — Add 5 tablets to one liter of water at room temperature; agitate mixture every 5 minutes for 30 minutes before consuming.
    -4 Percent Chlorine Solution (Brand Name: Clorox®) — Add 4 drops to one liter of water at room temperature; agitate mixture every 5 minutes for 30 minutes before consuming.
    -Iodine CPD Tablets* (Brand Name: Portable-Aqua®) — Add 2 tablets to one liter of water at room temperature; agitate mixture every 5 minutes for 30 minutes before consuming.
    -Iodine Solution* (Brand Name: 2 Percent Tincture of Iodine) — Add 5 to 10 drops of iodine to one liter of water at room temperature, agitate every 5 minutes for 30 minutes before consumption.
    -Iodine Crystals* (Brand Name: Polar Pure®) — Dissolve crystals in water and use resulting solution to treat water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
    -Heat water to a boil for one minute and let it cool slowly without agitation to kill all germs. Or, heat water for three minutes and then let it cool rapidly for immediate use.
  • Portable filters currently on the market will provide various degrees of protection against microbes, but are generally meant to be used in conjunction with disinfection for the greatest protection from diseases.
    -Reverse-osmosis filters protect against viruses, bacteria and protozoa.
    -Microstrainer filters remove bacteria and protozoa from drinking water, but they do not completely remove viruses.
*Iodine may be toxic to children.