One of the most compelling reasons to go abroad: the opportunity to challenge your palette with new dishes. Fried tuna eyeballs? Fried rat? Jellied moose nose? Yes, good luck finding these rates in the country. As it turned out, this was probably for the best; because they are considered dangerous foods that you should avoid while traveling.
While this food adventure may seem harmless, harmful bacteria can be dangerously hidden in many culinary variants. To help you find your way around the culinary landscape abroad, we’ve rounded up expert advice from those who know best: Doctors. Even these experts wouldn’t eat some of the things — from berries to bats (yes, bats) — on this list.
Basically, any fresh produce without the protective skin that you need to peel off before consuming is not a good idea. Since local water is often undrinkable in less developed countries, eating food washed in this water is also dangerous.
Apples are another example of a fresh produce that should be avoided at all costs. You should only consider eating apples if you can wash them yourself with clean drinking water. And to minimize the risk of infection, make sure to peel them too.
3. Frozen foods.
According to Jane Wilson-Howart, physician and author of The Essential Guide to Travel Health, frozen food on the shelf in the freezer poses several health risks. These “high risk” preparations are caused by the constant freezing and thawing of food which can produce harmful bacteria. In addition, the ice used to freeze this product carries a risk of contamination.
If you’ve never eaten anything from the crustacean group like shrimp, lobster and crab, it’s not a good idea to be adventurous during your trip. On one hand, this would be a bad time to find out about your shellfish allergy on a trip to a foreign country. In addition, shellfish carry far more bacteria than other seafood because they are considered “bottom eaters”. If you want to do it anyway, at least make sure it’s well prepared.
5. Raw vegetables.
Pay attention to this rule if you plan to travel to a country with high levels of pollution, because the deeper they grow into the soil, the harder it is for fruits and vegetables to keep clean, says Wilson-Howart. If you want a salad with fresh vegetables, choose packaged products that have not been exposed to water. But be careful: when buying pre-cut fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, manufacturers already clean the fruit with local water, which can be dangerous to eat.
6. Street food.
In countries like Thailand and Mexico, street vendors remain an integral part of culture and cuisine. However, while much of the food offered on the streets is perfectly safe, there are some risks that can be avoided by paying close attention to detail. There are several things to consider when choosing street food. First, how clean is the booth? If there are leftovers and trash in the stall, move your food elsewhere. So how many people are waiting in line? If there are men, women, and children taking food from vendors, it is probably safe. Lastly, if the meat offered at the booth is not covered by the cook, the chances of the food being contaminated are even greater.
7. Ice Cream.
Unfortunately, like other frozen foods, this travel product has to be left alone. Licking the soft parts is acceptable only if you buy it from a well-known chain or store. Never buy ice cream from a small booth without someone waiting in line – this is a definite red flag. If you’re still craving something sweet, Wilson-Howart recommends using a fruit sorbet that has more acid and less bacteria.
8. Tap water.
The CDC claims that all overseas travelers with questionable water sources should hold bottled water at all times. If you need to use local water, boil it first. The following countries are known to have the worst drinking water in the world: Mexico, Congo, Pakistan, Ghana, Nepal, Cambodia, Nigeria, China, Russia, Turkey and the entire South American continent.
We should all be more vigilant about where we get our lettuce from, especially since the latest E. coli outbreak in the United States was followed by Roma lettuce. While it is best to avoid salad while traveling, if you need to prepare a healthy meal, buy packaged produce that hasn’t touched local water sources, as fresh lettuce is always at risk of contamination.
10. Raw meat and Seafood.
It should come as no surprise that eating raw meat and seafood can be harmful to your gut and general health when traveling abroad. Raw and undercooked meat and seafood can pose a health hazard even in developed countries like the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you should always avoid raw cuts of meat or seafood, even if they have been “cooked” with orange juice or vinegar, when traveling. Swimming with germs can likely lead to serious health problems – and worst of all, it can slow down your journey.