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Food safety while traveling
Food safety while traveling. One in every ten people fall ill from foodborne illnesses, causing three million healthy lives to be lost each year, 420,000 of those deaths are children according to figures of the World Health Organization (WHO). While not all of these deaths occur while travelling, it is wise to take extra precautions in unfamiliar territory
Foodborne illnesses can be painful, result in doctor visits, lost work, extreme discomfort, and can ruin a vacation. The Panama Ministry of Health (MINSA) reports that there were 16,590 food related illnesses reported in 2015 and there was likely to be more unreported cases. All visitors should be careful with food and beverages to ensure they don’t get sick while visiting.
Perhaps the most important way to avoid food illnesses is to wash your hands before eating, handling or preparing food. This common sense is important in less developed countries, where education levels are not as high.
In terms of water, “One great thing about Panama, in comparison to many other countries in Central America, is that you can drink the tap water anywhere”, according to authors Coley Hudgins & Trey Morrison. Travelers should still ensure that bottled water is sealed and should avoid well water. Carbonated drinks, hot coffee and tea, and pasteurized milk are always good safety alternatives.
When eating out, be aware that all food may not be safe and watch for signs of food which can provoke illnesses. Order hot and cooked eggs, meat, fish, pasteurized dairy products, and washed fruits and vegetables.
Visitors should avoid foods served at room temperature, food from street vendors, raw or undercooked eggs, meat or fish, and unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables. Unpasteurized dairy products and “bushmeat” (wild animals that country restaurants could be serving) should always be avoided.
There are also some food related diseases that should be considered when traveling to third world countries, such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid. You can avoid getting these diseases by getting routine vaccines before your trip.
This information can be used anywhere you go, especially in third world nations. It is also important to know about foodborne illnesses and how to prevent them.
Food safety while traveling: Washing your hands and being careful about what you eat and drink is a sure way to help avoid the potential illnesses when traveling and making sure your travels are not inadvertently derailed.
By Madelyn Krueger
Madelyn Krueger is an eleven year-old student of the Metropolitan School of Panama who was interested enough to share her thoughts on food safety while travelling