Emily Bailey: Eat and drink safely while traveling abroad
We've all heard it: "Don't drink the water."
Summertime is right around the corner. The kids are getting out of school, and it's time for family vacation. But when you're traveling abroad, especially now with the deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe, you need to keep your family safe from foodborne illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says consuming contaminated foods or beverages causes foodborne diseases. Of the more than 250 food borne diseases, most are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites that can form on food.
Each year, roughly one out of six Americans gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases, according to CDC estimates.
Here are five tips to remember when traveling, especially when traveling abroad.
Avoid tap water in all forms. Water supplies, especially in developing countries, may not be adequately disinfected and may contain parasites. If you plan to drink tap water, be sure to boil it for several minutes before drinking. Also, avoid ice, blended drinks and water used when brushing your teeth. Even a small amount of infected water can make you ill.
Drink safe beverages. Safe beverages include boiled water, hot beverages, bottled water that has been tightly sealed, canned beverages and water treated with commercial iodine or chlorine tablets.
Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. Salads and uncooked vegetables are often rinsed with tap water and may be contaminated. Before eating, be sure to know the source of the water used to wash your fruits and vegetables.
Other foods to avoid. These include raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish and eggs along with small independent vendors' dairy products, which may not be pasteurized. Also, be sure the foods you are eating have not been left un-refrigerated.
Eat safe foods. Foods that are considered safe include thoroughly cooked fruits and vegetables, fruits with thick coverings that you peel yourself, thoroughly cooked meat, poultry, eggs and fish along as well as dairy products from large commercial dairies.
If you do become ill while traveling out of the country, contact the U.S. Embassy of the country you're in to obtain reliable medical resources.
Most important, remember, this is vacation, and it's supposed to be fun. Just follow the rules outlined above, and don't become obsessed with food safety.
Emily Bailey is a clinical dietitian with Memorial Medical Center.
CDC: Traveler's Health