Surviving Street Food
While travelling, we are met with endless opportunities to try local cuisine. While the majority won’t cause any problems, my now numerous experiences of food poisoning have taught me a few things, most importantly how to avoid it in future! Though we shouldn’t be afraid to try new things when visiting another country in order to experience the culture, nobody wants to spend their entire trip curled up into a ball or with their head down a toilet.
– Shop around to find good quality. A cart selling food for a higher price isn’t necessarily better, and often the locals won’t even eat at the cheapest cart. Find a seller showing regular custom, consistency is key!
– Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. It may be street food, but if the seller’s hands aren’t clean when you look at them, they probably weren’t when they were preparing your food. Most sellers maintain good standards; you just have to find the right one.
– If you are in any way unsure, avoid meat. You are far more likely to get food poisoning from meat based dishes than any other. In some areas, like Central America, many street food dishes are rice based, so it’s easy to avoid meat if you aren’t sure.
– Look for food that is prepared fresh. While most will have been recently prepared, some may have been there for hours. In hot climates, food left sitting around is a breeding ground for bacteria.
– If you have a sensitive stomach, choose wisely! Street food often uses a lot of oil, animal fat or dairy, so if you have problems with those at the best of times, street food is not the place to test your tolerances.
Enjoy your street food safely!