A group of tourists from Angamaly in Ernakulam had set out on a trip to Ramakkalmedu in Idukki. However, the pleasure trip soon turned into a nightmare after several members of the group suffered food poisoning and one person died.
What is more shocking is that the group had cooked own food and carried it along for the trip!
This recent incident is a scary reminder of how careful we should be of our food while travelling. Whether it's home-cooked or hotel food, one needs to be cautious to stay in the best of health.
Home cooked is good, but...
Elders have told the generation next over and over again that it was best to eat home-cooked food - neither will it harm your body nor will it burn a hole in your wallet. However, the same home-cooked food can turn into a villain and cause more problems.
The chances of fish, egg and meat dishes getting spoiled are high. Even if these were properly cooked, they would not stay fresh for long especially during lengthy journeys.
It is not possible to prevent food from getting spoiled for more than 24 hours.
Spoiled food, meat that was not properly cooked and raw fish can all cause bacterial infection.
Considering these factors, doctors opine that it is best to carry vegetarian foods during trips.
In case you are eating out, then pick a restaurant/hotel that is clean even if it means spending more. Even then, opt for cooked dishes such as those that are steamed or boiled. Avoid juices, instead drink tea, coffee or soup.
Also, have a closer look at the plates. Good food in unclean plates can cause equal havoc to our body.
Food that can be taken
Food that have a shelf life of couple of days can be taken along for journeys such as bread-jam, chappathi, pappad, biscuit, groundnut barfi and so on.
It's not just the food, but the packaging is also important. Make sure these are packed in air-tight containers.
Thick dosas are also a good choice. You can team it up with chutney powder mixed in oil.
When preparing milk for children, ensure boiled water is used.
Half-cooked items should be avoided from the menu. As much as possible avoid non-vegetarian food. Canned meat is also harmful.
Even those food that trigger mild allergies should be left out. Milk and milk products are also on the don’t-eat list.
Since it is not possible to know the quality of the water used, avoid juice at all cost. Fruits too cannot be trusted, especially if they are not properly washed. Salads are also a strict no-no.
The bottle of alcohol too should be left out. Ice-creams too are not good for you.
Reheating cooked food is harmful.
Most of the illnesses that one suffers during trips are spread through the water.
Ensuring boiled water during the trip is of utmost importance. Carry as much as boiled water with you. When that gets exhausted only, go for the bottled mineral water.
Wash your hands properly
Personal hygiene is very important while travelling. Infections can be avoided to some extent by ensuring that the hands are properly washed before a meal. The importance of this simple procedure cannot be emphasised enough.
Consult a doctor
In case you fall prey to food poisoning, it is best to approach the doctor than opting for self-medications. If the illness aggravates, then there are little chances of survival.
Food poisoning can cause vomiting or diarrhoea, both of which can lead to loss of water from the body. Ensure you drink lots of water in such situations.
Vaccinations are available for illnesses such as jaundice and typhoid. Kids and even adults can get vaccinated ahead of a trip. Jaundice, a waterborne disease, is one of the common illnesses that travellers suffer from.
With inputs from: Dr Sunil Mathew, (gastroenterologist, Medical Trust), Dr M Narayanan (consultant paediatrician, SAN children’s clinic, Mamangalam), Susan Itty (chief clinical nutritionist, Aster Medcity, Kochi) K J Nimja (dietician, Dr Hari’s Clinic, Kochi)