Food Safety Tips for Home and Away
Deborah Peniuk aka Dee/TraveliciousDee is an outside the box travel counsellor on a mission to empower people to plan travel less inside the lines & use their senses & imagination. She’s currently living in Ontario, Canada and loves yoga, mediation, and being outside. Be her friend on facebook or follow her on twitter!
Food Glorious Food! Just the thought of tantilizing flavours from far away conjures up the most amazing of sensations. Maybe at this exact moment you are remembering a favourite dish a parent, relative or friend made like Uncle Jim’s perfectly barbequed tasty ribs or Grandma’s expertly rolled homemade cinnamon buns. The thing about food is – it sustains us both emotionally and physically – it’s not just a necessity for living but also a joy and a simple pleasure so let’s discuss the challenges of taking this joy on vacation.
If you’re in a non-English speaking country, it’s a good idea to get referrals from other travellers and your travel agent if possible as well as having a phrase book on hand to help translate the menu and avoid potentially risky dishes. Do some research online or at the library to better understand the cuisine of the location you will be visiting. Make sure that your food is always cooked thoroughly and served hot if that is what the dish is supposed to be. This is not the best time to be super adventurous and have a runny egg huevos rancheros or some prepared tartare in a country not known for its “raw” menu items. It’s also a good idea to see how an eatery runs their clean “ship” as that will usually tell you how clean they might be keeping their kitchen.
One of the best things about travelling is enjoying the tastes and smells, the experience of new cuisine; one of the worst things about travelling is the possibility of food related illnesses. When choosing to place to eat, try to dine in busy tourist destinations, which are more likely to have higher food safety regulations, standards and practices in order to maintain their reputation and the continued return of business.
A new little travel tip I was recently enlightened to has helped to ensure that I don’t create a recipe for disaster and digestive chaos was the following: if the drinking water you will have access to is questionable, simply add 2-5 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (otherwise known as GSE) to each glass of water. Be sure to get its full effects by stirring it well and letting it sit for a few moments before you consume it but be forwarned its quite bitter(think citrus on steroids) . As an excellent antimicrobial it’s great to have on hand to keep those digestive complaints at bay while travelling. Most will say that the best advice is to only consume those beverages that are bottled and served to yousealed(it’s not uncommon for bottles to be refilled from a contaminated source and order your drinks without ice,including those ones that are blended- I know- takes away the fun but its about being safe!
Danger Danger …sometimes its only skin deep so only eat fruits such as oranges and other citrus fruits, bananas and mangos that have a protective, peel-able layer of skin. The peel of the fruit acts like a protective barrier to microorganisms that can make you sick. The peel protects the fruit inside but also makes it a net that harbours the growth of bacteria and molds so always make sure you completely wash and peel it first so you don’t tranfer anything.
Wash, Wash, Wash! Don’t forget to wash your own hands many times over! Washing your hands is even more important to travellers in a foreign locale than at home because of the possibility of picking up “little critters” or microbes that you have never been exposed to.
Paying attention to food safety is not just a travelling issue as we are such a global community that comes with a very global food supply. Food is sourced and delivered from multiple sources and your favourite fruits and veggies can travel thousands of miles to grace your table and even our local produce is handled many times over before we pick it up at the supermarket and the local veggie stand.