Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common ailment amongst people who travel especially to India and South-East Asia. One recommendation is to avoid all street food but part of experiencing an exotic locale is the food. Street food is readily available, tasty, and easy on the budget. Here are 5 tips to help your choice street food that is less likely to cause stomach issues.
1.Eat where the locals eat.
Ask locals at your hotel, tour guides, people you meet where they eat for authentic food experiences. Local businesses have to maintain their reputations to stay in business. If you see a street vendor with only tourists in line, look further for one with mostly locals. Yes, locals can tolerate local bacteria better than you, but this is a good way to identify safer food choices.
2. How many flies can you count?
Flies will go from fecal material to your food. Not so appealing now, right? Look to see if food is covered or attempts are made to keep the flies off.
3. How clean does the stall, cook, and utensils look?
At least with street vendors you can see how and where your food is cooked. In a restaurant, you don’t/. Is raw meat or seafood kept cold before cooking?
4. How safe is the water?
You may know not to drink the water from the tap, or brush your teeth with tap water but what about that fruit that’s cut up for sale? Was it washed in the tap water? Avoid salads for the same reason. Ice? Was it made with tap water? Remember those blender drinks with the little umbrellas? They started out as ice, too.
5. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
Soap and water is the best. It kills more germs than hand sanitizer. Even using water, you can’t drink, wash thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before you cook, eat, or come in contact with sick people, animals or anything else you think might be touched by lots of people and DRY well. When don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
I can’t guarantee you won’t get traveler’s diarrhea but by following some simple precautions you can savor the local cuisine without regretting it. The CDC even has a free app for that.