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About Food and Drink SafetyPolicy Information:
Depending on the student’s destination, education abroad professionals need to provide detailed and comprehensive information about food and drink safety, including advice about the prevention of food and waterborne illnesses. Pre-travel advice by a professional travel health expert is highly recommended as many infectious diseases are transmitted through contaminated food or water. Water- and food-borne diseases in the U.S. are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These pathogens may be different abroad. Seafood poisoning from marine toxins is an underrecognized hazard for travelers, particularly in the tropics and subtropics
The SAFETI Adaptation of Peace Corps Resources: Food and Water Preparation in the Sample Forms section below offers specific guidelines for the preparation of food and water.
In many parts of the world, drinking tap water or having ice in beverages may make a traveler ill. Waterborne disease is a risk for students who visit countries that have poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation. Drinking bottled water is highly recommended in much of the world. The availability of safe water is often taken for granted in the developed world. According to Dr. Hemada Garelick "Careful choice or treatment of water—whether for drinking, washing, preparing food, or swimming in—is one of the most important precautions a traveler can take." ((ed.) Richard Dawood, M.D. Water. Travelers' Health: How to Stay Healthy All Over the World, 1994, 71.) In order to minimize the risk of contracting a water-borne disease, students should be aware of the safety of water in the country in which they will study. Due to the risks involved in drinking unsafe water abroad, education abroad professionals could consider developing an outline regarding what beverages are safe to drink, and which ones could probably be avoided and how to make water safe to drink.
According to CDC, travelers’ diarrhea (TD) is the most predictable travel-related illness. Attack rates range from 30% to 70% of travelers, depending on the destination. Traditionally, it was thought that TD could be prevented by following eating rules, but studies have found that people who follow the rules still get ill. Poor hygiene practice in local restaurants is likely the largest contributor to the risk for TD. In some countries, food preparation practices are inadequate and can result in food-related illnesses. Study abroad programs should provide students with risk avoidance guidelines and tips to minimize food poisoning.Sample Forms and Documents:
- SAFETI Adaptation of Peace Corps Document: Diarrhea
- SAFETI Adaptation of Peace Corps Document: Food and Water Preparation
- University of California Education Abroad Program Student Guide: Food and Water
- University of California Education Abroad Program Student Guide: Food in Costa Rica
- University of California Education Abroad Program Student Guide: Special Precautions in Brazil
- University of the Pacific Student Guide: Food and Water
- CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange), Knowledge Services: Food