5 Foods To Avoid When Traveling

From the moment you step into an airport, you are exposed to a higher risk of infections and illnesses than usual. Getting sick while traveling can hinder the purpose of your trip, be it business or pleasure. So when taking a look at the menu, try to avoid the following to stay on the safer side.

1. Salad

Raw produce, including uncooked ones found in salads, may contain contaminants and microorganisms. However, fruits and vegetables which have to be peeled (bananas or mangoes, for example) are considered a safe bet.

Leafy greens, however, might be contaminated with bacteria if not washed properly. This can happen due to pesticide use, unhygienic exposure at farms, or being washed with contaminated water which would simply worsen the problem.

2. Raw shellfish

The safest way to consume shellfish is to cook them yourself — either by steaming for 4 to 9 minutes after the start of steaming or boiling for 3 to 5 minutes after the shells open. Make sure to purchase them from a reputable dealer. 

"Avoid raw oysters and all other raw shellfish, which can make you really sick and ruin your vacation," said Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietitian based in Boston. "Cooking shellfish properly destroys the germs that cause illness — so don’t avoid all seafood, just avoid the raw kind."

3. Cold drinks

Remember the point about raw produce being rinsed with contaminated water? Well, it could get worse. Tom Allwright, who owns Adventure Abroad that conducts tours in remote areas around the world, noted many of them reuse the water in the form of ice cubes.

"Many restaurants wash their salad through dirty tap water and use that same water to create ice blocks, which people have in their cold drinks," he explained. "This is common in Papua New Guinea (Kokoda Trail) and Africa (Kilimanjaro)."

4. Unpasteurized dairy

How about some black coffee for a change? Consuming dairy can be challenging in certain countries when you cannot tell whether the product is pasteurized or not. The process is necessary to eradicate salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and more.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, unpasteurized dairy products are 150 times more likely to cause a foodborne illness than their counterparts. The risk particularly applies to milk and soft cheeses.

5. Bushmeat

This refers to the meat of wild forest animals such as bats, monkeys, gorillas, chimps, crocodiles, elephants, and rodents of African countries. The health risk largely revolves around possible exposure to the blood or other fluids from an infected animal.

Bushmeat could lead to dangerous diseases such as Ebola and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, even Nigerians were warned against consuming bushmeat due to the risk of infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus.