How to Avoid Food Poisoning When Studying Abroad

Lets face it, traveling and studying abroad is a fun experience and sometimes you do things that you would not do back home, such as trying all types of new and wonderful food items. But, as a world traveler, I have been there many times when those weird and wonderful foods have not been prepared to the best standards and food poisoning strikes!

It is no fun being sick in a foreign country and trying to navigate the health system in a foreign language. Not only that, but there are some types of food poisoning that can actually be very dangerous for your health – and trust me you do not want to have to be medically transported home in the middle of your trip.

To prevent this from happening, there are some simple tips you can follow that will help with general hygiene and still allow you to still have fun and be adventurous:

Wash/ Disinfect Your Hands

With most bugs and illnesses, your general cleanliness is often key to preventing the spread to other people and to yourself. Ideally you would want to make sure you wash your hands before eating and preparing food, but also after you go to the bathroom. If it’s not easy or convenient to do this, you can now buy pocket hand sanitizers that you can keep with you and will do a good job of sanitizing your hands whenever you need to.

Purchase Your Food Wisely

With a new country comes the opportunity to shop at local stores and vendors – you’re in for a treat as there will often be new types of fruits, meats, and vegetables that you cannot get back home. Be sure to exercise caution on where you purchase food, the butcher on the corner who is out in the open and cutting meat all day in 95 degree weather may not be the best choice.

Wash Your Food Thoroughly

It’s always good to give your food a good wash (if you are sure the water is clean) before eating, even for things like apples and vegetables that you might not necessarily need to wash back home. Fruits and vegetables could have been stored somewhere or come into contact with something that will not agree with you, so it's always good to give them a good wash!

Get Recommendations When Eating Out

One of the best parts of traveling is the ability to get out and try new food, but find out from the locals what the good places are to eat and which places to avoid. Most locals will be happy to let you know – and you could find a hidden gem!

Street Vendors

Offering many different options, street vendors can be great places to try local cuisines, and you will certainly want to try them, but use caution. Try to stick to hot food and make sure the food is piping hot. I would also try to avoid raw foods, especially raw seafood from street vendors and any dairy products. These are traditional places where you could get various forms of food poisoning, if these items are not cooled properly.

The most important thing to remember is have fun and use your best judgment. If you do get sick, most cases of food poisoning will not be too serious – it will just make you uncomfortable for a while. You can always check online for excellent resources on how to treat mild food poisoning. However, if things get more severe, find a local doctor or hospital who can provide you with the needed treatment.