Do you want to know how to safely eat street food in the Philippines? It's hard to know what to eat when it comes to Philippine street food, but there are ways to avoid getting sick. In 2005, approximately 27 children died after eating tainted cassava from a street vendor, which also became ill. Then in 2008, 51 senior citizens were rushed to the hospital after coming down with food poisoning at a luncheon to celebrate Senior Citizens Week. There are some things that you can do to protect your health while on vacation and still enjoy all the local flavors of the Philippines.
- Make sure any cold entrée is sitting in ice and is being constantly kept cold. The same goes for hot items. If something looks like it has been let to sit out for hours, pass on it and move on to something else. When street foods are not handled properly, it opens up the possibility of hazardous microorganisms invading the food.
Salads or anything made with leafy greens should be examined carefully. These street foods also contain dangerous microorganisms, which are very difficult to remove during cleaning. If it doesn't look clean, chances are it might not be.
- Avoid any fruit or vegetables that look like they are damaged or pierced. Toxins can seep under the skin of these foods causing mold and sickness. These street foods should also be pealed before eating and make sure to wash them thoroughly along with your hands. There is a certain amount of bacteria that resides on these foods, especially the longer they are around. If in doubt, it’s best to skip something rather than get sick.
- Bottled water is always best when traveling to the Philippines or any place that you are not familiar with. Check the caps of the water bottles to make sure they are still sealed and check for the expiration date. If you find yourself in a situation where clean water is not available, it can be brought to a rolling boil to kill any living bacteria before consuming. Overall, beverages that are prepackaged or bottled should be safe for consumption and they shouldn’t be hard to find in the Philippines.
- There are many safe street foods that you can find in the streets of the Philippines, such as deep fried chicken, grilled corn, fried calamari and squid, barbeque pork and chicken along with other non-traditional offerings of burgers, hot dogs and cotton candy. As long as the food vendor’s area is clean, well kept and they have the proper cooking equipment to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold you should be all set. Just remember to check for freshness when buying fresh.
- Foods that you may want to cross off your list are ice cream, ice cubes, raw milk and any raw seafood. These all have the potential to carry harmful bacteria.
By following a few certain rules and being observant of the conditions in the Philippine market, you stand a good chance of having a happy and healthy vacation. Women, children, the elderly and those with immune deficiencies are at more risk for food borne illnesses. If you do eat something that doesn’t agree with you, drink plenty of water, tea or broth and avoid sugary drinks, coffee and alcohol.
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