(Hi Readers: Here is the first of what will be a regular feature on KidsTravelDoc, a short item to help keep you and your children healthy and safe for travel and outdoor activities.)
Choose foods that are too hot to eat immediately. When traveling, nearly all upset stomachs are due to microorganisms (and their toxins) found in food. Sufficient heat kills organisms and neutralizes toxins.
The fact that food is still piping hot indicates that it has just been heated and did not remain standing after preparation to be contaminated by flies or people’s hands. Ideal food items are soups and stews, ones that contain only small pieces of solids. (Large pieces of solids may remain insufficiently cooked in the center.) Thin omelets and items boiled in oil or water also tend to be safe. A rare exception is certain large reef fish in the tropics: snapper, grouper, amberjack, and others.These fish produce toxins that are not destroyed by heat. Well-prepared smaller fish are generally safe.
Choose foods carefully at buffets, especially outdoor ones in hot weather. Buffets require much handling to prepare and may remain on tables for hours, increasing the risk of lapses in sanitation plus exposure to insects and heat. Avoid foods that are warm, but not hot; “warm” allows organisms to multiply rapidly. Be cautious when selecting a dessert. Desserts are generally eaten last, but are often placed on the table at the same time as other items. Organisms also multiply rapidly in creamy products.