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7 Foods to Avoid When Traveling Abroad

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There are a lot of things you want to come home from your vacation with – souvenirs, plenty of photos, lots of great memories – but what you don’t want to bring home are things like typhoid, hepatitis A, E. coli and other common food-borne illnesses. If you’re like most travelers, you already know you should steer clear of tap water in some countries, but contamination can go beyond just the water. Below are seven foods you should avoid when traveling to other countries.

7. Unpasteurized Dairy

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Eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy products can increase the likelihood of food-borne illness by as much as 150 times. The pasteurizing process kills certain harmful bacteria, including E. coli, listeria and salmonella. However, while pasteurization may be the norm in the States, you shouldn’t assume everything is pasteurized in other countries. Always ask whether the dairy products you consume are pasteurized to avoid serious illness.

6. Fish and Seafood

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Indulging in the local seafood offerings in another country may be tempting, but be careful, especially if the fish or shellfish is raw. Illnesses like anisakiasis, which causes worms to invade the digestive tract of humans, are acquired by eating raw or undercooked fish. Additionally, some types of shellfish poisoning can be neurotoxic and paralytic. Your best bet is to avoid fish, shellfish and seafood altogether, but if you must eat it, make sure everything is cooked thoroughly and stored properly.

5. Raw Eggs

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One of the best ways to avoid food-borne illnesses when traveling to other countries (other than not drinking tap or well water) is to steer clear of anything and everything that might have raw egg in it. This includes soft-boiled or runny eggs, cocktails that include raw egg and even homemade mayonnaise. You should also take care to never soak or wash local eggs before cooking them, as doing so can drive bacteria into the center of the eggs, making them potentially unsafe for consumption.

4. Certain Kinds of Fruit

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When choosing fruit in other countries, opt for varieties of fruit that have a thick peel, which provides natural protection against tainted water, soil or bacteria. Bananas, pineapples and oranges are all great examples of fruits with a thick peel. Foods to avoid include apples, kiwi, peaches, and pears, which all have thin peels that don’t offer sufficient protection. If you must eat one of the “forbidden” fruits, however, make sure you wash it, cook it and/or peel it before consuming it!

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