Food Safety When Traveling

A food safety expert shares tips for staying healthy on the road.

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Smart Habits

Whether you're going by car, plane, or train, the smart food safety habits you practice at home can sometimes slide when you're travelling. Follow these 10 simple tips to avoid getting sick on your next trip.

Mind Your Time

It's easy to lose track of time on a long journey. And if left unrefrigerated, foods like yogurt, chicken sandwich, or hummus are the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. As such, eat these types of foods within 4 hours, or toss 'em.

Separate Raw Foods From Cooked

If you're bringing raw meats to cook at a ski house or host house, wrap and separate it from the ready-to-eat and cooked foods. If you're travelling by car, put it on ice and be mindful of the time it sits out at room temperature (no more than 4 hours!).

Wipe Your Tray Table

In a 2015 study by TravelMath, a microbiologist collected 26 samples from 5 airports and 4 flights, and found airplane tray tables to be the dirtiest place on an airplane. Wipe your tray tables down with a chemical wipe and never touch your food directly: always use a napkin or utensil to grab it.

Avoid Airport Drinking Fountains

Water may seem like the only free perk at airports, but if you're touching the drinking fountain button, you're probably picking up a nice dose of microorganisms. According the same study by TravelMath, it was ranked as one of the dirtiest places at airports.

Maintain Temperatures

Although it seems simple, any food you plan on buying on your trip should be at the right temperature. A cold sandwich should be kept refrigerated before you purchase it, and a hot soup should be kept piping hot. Room temperature foods could indicate that the food has been sitting out for hours, and could potentially contain harmful microorganisms.

Avoid Sick Servers

Whether you're ordering food at a fast food joint or stopped for a sit-down meal, avoid servers who are visibly ill with the sniffles or bad cough.

Do Your Research

According to a 2015 World Health Organization report, approximately 1 in 10 people get sick from food poisoning annually. Before heading to your international destination, check if it has a drinkable water supply. Undrinkable water can be contaminated with parasites, amoebas, and viruses like hepatitis. If the water supply isn't clean then avoid anything made with tap water including cocktails, ice, and water to brush your teeth. Only use bottled water, and other bottled drinks like soda and juice.

Make the Safest Choice

When making pit stops for meals on the road, skip the prepared foods if they look questionable. Packaged foods must adhere to strict food safety practices, so sometimes they're the best choice. Some better-for-you packaged snacks include protein bars, granola bars, popcorn and nuts.

Wash Reusable Bottles

You may want to save money by toting a reusable water bottle, but there is a limit for how long you can re-use it. With your lips (and bacteria) getting on the mouth piece, be sure to wash it with soap and warm water every day.

Pack Non-Perishables

When you're not sure where you can get your next meal, pack non-perishables. Good choices include nuts, nut butters, snack bars, instant oatmeal or muesli (you can just add hot water), bagged or canned tuna, whole grain crackers and dried fruits.