Part of the fun of traveling is getting a taste for some local food. But if you just order anything at a street cart, it’s possible to catch food poisoning or worse. To avoid this, these tips can help!
If you’re unsure about food safety practices, don’t eat it. Some street carts make a living serving traditional foods and may not be as sanitary as places you might normally eat at home. If a vendor doesn’t seem up-to-date on food safety, consider walking away.
Recent news reports have shown that not all restaurant workers know the right way to clean fruits and vegetables, regardless of what they say (or what they think they know). If there is any reason to question how fresh or well-washed the food is, don’t eat it even if you can see that the vendor is using clean water at his cart or restaurant.
Here are some points discussed about How to Eat Street Food Without Getting Sick-
1. Cooked food is more likely to be contaminated than raw food.
It’s important to know the difference between a cooked and raw dish. When you’re at a vendor, or ordering at a restaurant, ask how long the food was cooked. If you don’t hear an answer from the person making your order, ask for it yourself with a smile and a strong voice on your part.
Don’t drink tap water from street vendors or restaurants that use it for cleaning purposes or cooking (or both). Tap water has been known to be contaminated by chemicals or microorganisms that are present in its source.
2. Buy food from vendors that are busy and clean.
Busy street carts or restaurants are a safer option than ones that aren’t as busy, because this means people trust the food served here. Also, street carts that are clean on the outside are less likely to have unclean food behind their tents or in their kitchens.
If you’re eating at a sit-down restaurant, look to see if employees wash their hands before cooking your food; you should also do the same when you get your meal. And if you’re on public transportation, take care not to eat food that has been sitting out and unattended for long periods of time (more than 30 minutes).
3. Be vigilant about the water you drink at street vendors or restaurants.
It’s perfectly fine to use tap water for brushing your teeth and washing your hands, but it’s not OK to drink it as a beverage. Chlorinated (or chloramine) is pumped into public water supplies, but it adds no benefits to drinking the water and has been known to cause stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea and other illnesses in people who are more susceptible to chemical sensitivities or drug allergies as well as pregnant women.
If you do have a cold before your trip, drink only bottled water even if you discovered that the tap water was perfectly fine for brushing your teeth and washing your hands.
4. Don’t eat street food that is hard to read or sell.
It’s important to know whether the food in front of you is fresh, because it makes a world of difference in terms of what you’re eating and how safe it is. If vendors aren’t labeling foods and they are wrapping them in plastic, you should be wary. You’ll be better off not eating the food and moving on to other vendors with open stalls.
5. Eat street food that is cooked and eaten when served.
Street food that is freshly cooked and not left sitting out for long periods of time will be safer for your health, no matter where it comes from (i.e., Mexico, Asia, Africa). The longer a food sits out, the more bacteria grow on it and the more likely you are to get sick if you eat it.
Ask vendors if they do any cooking behind their stalls or if raw foods are only used for street food and not sold to customers at the restaurant.
6. Drink bottled water in order to avoid illness.
You should be drinking carefully labeled bottled water when out and about because it will be much safer than the kind of water you may find at a public fountain, such as in Mexico or Asia. You can also buy it from your hotel, which may offer filtered drinking water at much lower costs than from street vendors or restaurants.