The Do’s & Don’ts When Eating Abroad

One of the most exciting aspects when travelling abroad, is the chance to experience the more unique eating customs and staple cuisines of your host country. From the vibrant flavors found in a traditional paella, to the finger-licking spices cooked into piri-piri Chicken, and everything in between.

But it’s important to research and exercise caution before diving headfirst into the proverbial Smorgasbord. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half a million people around the world die of foodborne illnesses from contaminated or unsanitary foods.

As the French writer Francois de La Rochefoucauld famously said, “To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."

When in doubt, it’s best to order a hot meal. After all, the higher the heat, the less chance there is of harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause traveller’s diarrhea. Consuming raw foods and shellfish should be done with extreme caution. Raw fruits and vegetables are a safer bet, but you’ll still want to wash them off properly first. And if you’re eating at a restaurant, avoid the foods that have been sitting at room temperature and go for the ones fresh off the oven. 
Believe it or not, there are still many countries around the world that don’t have safe drinking water options. Even if it is the involuntary consumption, like through showering or brushing your teeth, the bacteria and parasites that live in contaminated water can be fatal. It’s best to avoid drinking water out of any tap in a foreign country, and instead spring for a bottled option. But double check to make sure the seal is intact.
While street food options may be cheaper, and the smells from their dishes may be tempting, it’s best to avoid eating from them altogether. Most of the time, street vendors do not have to abide by the same health and safety standards of a restaurant. And therefore, you cannot be sure of the quality and preparation practices of the food they cook. Still, if you choose to go this route, ordering a hot dish is the safest option.
Wherever you venture, be sure to wash your hands as often as possible and exercise good judgement when deciding what and where to eat. You can go the extra step and protect yourself by purchasing a Travel Insurance policy with medical coverage from Allianz Global Assistance, in the event that you do fall ill while travelling abroad. Please note that travel insurance does not cover everything, we advise you to read the terms and conditions of your policy or contact us before your trip if you have any questions.

You can find a more detailed look at Food & Safety advice from the World Health Organization.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.
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