This time last year Nathalie’s blog, Holiday Hygiene: what you need to know, referred to an incident where more than 100 tourists fell ill with diarrhoea and vomiting. The patrons were diagnosed with Salmonella and E.coli infections and threatened legal action, claiming that their symptoms were a result of hygiene lapses at the hotel.
Whether you are travelling or staying at home for the holidays, food poisoning is definitely not on your wishlist this Christmas. From 5 star hotels to street food, here are a few basic things to look out for to help mitigate your risk when embarking on a culinary adventure:
- Are the servers and chefs wearing hair nets and gloves? Hair nets and gloves are recommended for the food industry to ensure that stray hairs don’t fall into food and that cross-contamination between hands-surfaces and food is limited.
- Are the meals prepared fresh or are they pre-made? If pre-made, where are the meals stored? It is important that food is stored properly to ensure that pests can’t access it and so that it doesn’t spoil. Airtight containers, containers covered with plastic wrap or pots with tight-fitting lids are recommended.
- Do the servers use utensils and tongs when handling food? This further limits the risk of cross-contamination from hands.
- Is there a hand washing station in the vicinity? This could be seen as an indicator of good hand washing practices.Initial offers this useful guide to hand washing, check it out to ensure your hands are clean which prevents the spread of germs.
- Is raw food stored and handled correctly? Items like meat should be stored in the fridge to ensure that it doesn’t spoil. Different food types, for example, meat and vegetables, should be prepared on separate cutting boards.
Remember to also consider ‘personal measures’
- Wash, or at least sanitise, your hands before meals.
- Be aware of the water quality in the area. If you are not sure about the water rather drink bottled water as opposed to tap water.
- Wash fruit and vegetables before eating.
As with most things, there is no guarantee of perfect health while on holiday but a few key observations could help you avoid food poisoning.