food safety in Morocco

Old May 8th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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food safety in Morocco

My husband and I are planning a trip to Morocco in the fall, and I have some concerns about what to eat and what NOT to eat while there, as it seems most of the journals and recitals of trips there involve someone in the party getting sick from the food. Some books say to avoid raw fruits and vegetables (including salads) unless you peel them yourself. Other sections in the same book talk about the wonderful salads and dates and figs and other fruit available at the markets. I'm finding it confusing and a bit worrisome. Any personal experiences would be appreciated!

KathyN
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Old May 9th, 2009, 03:20 AM
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I can understand why you feel so confused regarding this issue.

Travelling and eating local food is the same in Morocco as anywhere in the world.

Essentially, people get sick when travelling to foreign countries because their bodies are not familliar with the different microbes of that country, which are found in food.

Some people will be fine and will experience no upsets, others though will experience some stomach problems.

How to tell if you are not going to experience some upsets?
Simply, it is not possible.
However, you should try to draw on your personal experience in other similar countries to try to determine if you will or will not get an upset.

Of course, even this will not be too accurate, but you know your body. If you find that you have experienced upsets from food eaten in strange places before, then you should be careful what you eat in other unfamilliar countries.

Usually an upset will last just for a few days, whilst a persons body gets used to different microbes entering in and learns to adapt to them.....to see them as friendly rather than as an enemy.

With all this in mind, there are still some sensible precautions to take when travelling to most unfamilliar places in the world:

Don't drink the local tap water, drink bottled water.
When buying fruit, pour some bottled water over it (even locals do this)
Be aware of where you are buying your food from. If the place is visited by locals, then it is most likely going to be safe (and probably good value).
Avoid Ice as this could be made with tap water.
Many people say to avoid ice cream.

Eating Salads can be enjoyable. However, you are correct that it is the salads which can be the cause of a potential upset. This is due to perhaps bad preparation methods or at least, methods and practices which differ from our own. It does not mean to say that they are bad preparers of food, just that the methods used are different.

In the end, it is up to what you feel safe doing.
If you want an all out cultural immersion, then you have to try new things. Naturally, you expose yourself to new experiences and possible upsets.
If you want a completely safe experience, then you will need to cut back on your adventurous spirit and eat safe.

Remembering to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration is another important thing to remember and can contribute to your welfare generally. Remembering to wash hands before eating is another essential thing to minimise the risks.

You will probably read lots of reviews and trip reports that say something along the lines of "Don't eat at abc cafe, i did and got ill". These are usually not true reports, as it is very hard for the average person to pinpoint the exact cause of a stomach upset.

My essential rule: Enjoy to the full, be sensible in your choice of eatery and type of food, but don't worry too much to the extent that it is going to spoil your adventure.

I hope this helps to advise you and dispels some of the myths that surround eating whilst in foreign countries.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 06:48 AM
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travelnlight, what a wonderful and complete--and SENSIBLE--response!! Thank you! What you say makes sense to me. As I am looking forward to the adventure of traveling to Morocco, and since I do love foods of (almost) all kinds, the food I eat when there WILL be part of the adventure. Thanks!

KathyN
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 08:10 PM
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I suggest you stay away from any raw foods unless you are staying at very high end hotels and intend to eat in the hotels. Anything cooked should be fine. YOu sound very concerned, so I would suggest bringing water purification tablets; they are a huge improvement (taste wise). HAve fun.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 01:32 AM
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For almost 20 years, I have taken along Pepto Bismol tablets as a prophylactic against traveler's diarrhea. You don't have to buy the name brand, any bismuth subsalicylate tablets will do.
I buy bottled water when advisable, try to watch what I eat, taking care to avoid places that don't appear clean (though many places appear clean and aren't). All the same, even if the food seems well-prepared and sanitary, if I have any doubts at all, I'll pop a Pepto Bismol tablet beforehand--just in case. So far this has worked for me.
I have also started taking along probiotic tablets (acidophilus tablets). Plus, I am current with my Hepatitis A vaccine, which is of more concern to me than traveler's diarrhea.
Below are a couple of links, both of which mention the prophylactic value and risks of taking Pepto Bismol.
Pepto Bismol is not recommended for those who are allergic to aspirin. It can also interfere with certain other medications. And it is not recommended for long term use (more than three weeks).

http://www.aafp.org/afp/990700ap/119.html
http://www.uoregon.edu/~uoshc/patien...rsdiarrhea.htm
http://www.travmed.com/health_guide/ch6.htm
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 01:35 AM
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Another article worth reading:
http://health.nytimes.com/health/gui...-diarrhea.html
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 02:10 AM
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As I have been looking into traveling to Morroco myself, I read the above article and it stated that: "Campylobacter is a very common food- and water-borne bacterial cause of diarrhea in certain regions, notably Thailand and Morocco, during the winter."
I also read this in Jane N. Zuckerman's "Principles and Practices of Travel Medicine."
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