Preventing food poisoning while living abroad is easy.

Whether you are at home or travelling, I’m sure we can all agree that food poisoning is probably one of the worst illnesses anyone can get, and unfortunately, it’s quite common, especially in a foreign country. Foodborne illnesses are a serious matter and they can vary from a simple diarrhea to vomiting, fever, and dehydration. If untreated, it can cause death.

You may have immunised your children against every possible disease before going abroad (don’t forget to vaccinate them against rotavirus!). However, there are certain things that can only be avoided in the moment.

Once you are living abroad, you and your family will want to try everything new. That is perfectly normal, as long as you are taking precautions. Food and water quality vary immensely around the world, so if you want happy children, take the following advice into consideration.

What causes foodborne illnesses

Anyone consuming untreated water, raw meats, or any new food that they are not used to are at risk of suffering from an upset stomach. Bacteria, virus and parasites live in meats, vegetables and water, and if left untreated, can cause food poisoning.

It’s easy to believe that your immune system is made of stronger stuff than you think. It’s important to remember that the locals are accustomed to their culinary style, and even if you can withstand the strongest spices without flinching, you may end up running to the toilet if you’re not careful.

Your stomach needs time to adjust to new changes and build up strength against certain foods. This is especially true for your children as their immune systems are still developing. Eating funny-looking street food, bad personal hygiene, and drinking untreated tap water can all cause vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.

Like always, prevention is key!

40% of the total people who suffered from foodborne illnesses in 2010 were children under 5. But, does this mean you should limit your children from embracing a full-on experience abroad? Not at all! Just follow these simple tips and keep your family healthy while enjoying a full hands-on experience in your new home:

  1. Always wash your hands before handling food, before cooking and before eating!
  2. If you are drinking tap water, make sure you treat and filter it.
  3. Wash any food with bottled or treated water – not straight from the tap!
  4. Immunise yourself and your family against rotavirus before travelling abroad.
  5. If eating street food, do not hesitate to examine it and to say no.
  6. Cook raw food separately.

Before travelling, ask your doctor if there are any specific prevention vaccines or medications you and your children can have. This is especially convenient if you are travelling to any country with a lower hygiene standard.

[Image: James Pallinsad]