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First time to India. Concerned about food safety.

First time to India. Concerned about food safety.

May 15th, 2011, 11:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
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First time to India. Concerned about food safety.

I am going to India for two weeks on a business trip. The office is in Gurgaon and over the weekend I will be going with some co workers to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. I am concerned about what I can eat. I understand only bottled water, no ice cubes (I love ice ) , no dairy or raw vegetables. What about yogurt in lassi drinks? Any other hidden threats? Also more importantly things I can eat and should keep my eye out for? TIA
AGM_Cape_Cod is online now  
May 15th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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I drink lassi with no problems. Watch out for fruit juice - you need to be sure it hasn't been cut with water. Also watch out for food that isn't really hot. I don't eat street food in India, and you need to eat in places that look clean and have a good turnover. You can have ice if you're sure it's been made from purified water, but I usually pass.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 15th, 2011, 12:16 PM
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If you are not familiar with standard food and water precautions, do read them at www.cdc.gov/travel

Sometimes things that are supposed to be "safe" are not. My traveling partner got intensely ill after accepting tea at at shop - usually a safe thing to do. It was only lukewarm, and after only one sip she was ill for a couple of hours. Thursdays and Lcuy drink lassi with no problems, other have reported getting ill from lassi. I say this not to scare you, but to advise you be prepared. We always take along an antibiotic, immodium, and rehydration salts just in case. We have only rarely had to use any of our pharmacopia.

We ate well in India, sampled a wide variety of foods and had no other problems.
Kathie is offline  
May 15th, 2011, 02:21 PM
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I agree with the above. We had lassi twice in Jaipur with our driver whose mother milked the cows that provided the milk for the lassi we drank. It also had sugar which serves as an anti-bacterial.

Good hotels have ice made from purified water. You can find lots of cold drinks that don't have ice. Eat only really hot foods -- nothing lukewarm -- or really hot drinks.

There's a snack food made from puffs of pastry filled with a spicy water. It might be delicious, but the source of the water is usually suspect, so avoid it.

Don't brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with anything but purified water. Keep your mouth closed in the shower.

GI illnesses are complex -- in the days before sophisticated lab tests, doctors used the time of onset to determine the causative agent - two hours = S. aureus toxin, six hours - S. typhi, Salmonella, and so forth. I always take Imodium, Pepto, cipro wherever we travel. Check with your travel doc to know how to use them.

I find that people sometimes connect what they've eaten to a GI illness. It may, however, be a GI virus that they picked up from what they've touched, so wash your hands frequently, especially before meals.

Despite all these warnings, India is a wonderful country and I hope you have a fabulous trip!
indianapearl is offline  
May 15th, 2011, 03:22 PM
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I usually go vegetarian when in India. In addition to health concerns, the meat seems to be cut with an axe and you can can bust a tooth on the bone fragments left behind. There is always a choice "veg" or "non veg" and the veg options are generally both nutritious and delicious.
someotherguy is offline  
May 15th, 2011, 07:26 PM
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many follow the veggie route and there is something to be said for that... i skip the milk too... ONLY BOTTLED WATER, PERIOD AND NO ICE PERIOD!!!

we tried to eat mostly in upscale place and never on the street.... use your head...

never eat raw things or things that have been sitting around like on a buffet table...

rice is one of the worst bacteria carriers...

just use common sense and you will have fun...
rhkkmk is online now  
May 15th, 2011, 08:55 PM
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We had no problems, but ate mostly in our hotels (5 star), never drank from glasses if the restaurant handwashed glasses (our Indian friends asked), no street food, bottled water only. The only one of us who got sick was Indian-American and it was because she ate too much of her beloved grandmother's good cooking. (I also ate it, but in moderation.) So obviously it was the amount of food that caused her problem! Have a great time and enjoy the food in safe places.
pattyroth is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 04:21 AM
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Great info food water precautions

Hep A immunizations essential for me there.

Keep some antibiotics/immodium in your medical kit

for "Delhi Belly" somtimes unavoidable unless very careful.

Those lukewarm buffets at nice hotels make GREAT

culture medium for bacteria so be very careful there.

"Nightsoil" is used to fertilize stuff there making

consumption of fruits and veggies there VERY risky.

Bake it Boil it Broil It Peel It or LEAVE IT.

Works well for me there also only bottled water WITH gas.

Lots of resealed bottle water from the tap there sold

as "bottled" water when it is in fact resealed tap water.

So be careful there but India is majestic culturally love it.

well worth small nutritional inconveniences.

Happy Travels!
qwovadis is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 12:43 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I have prescriptions for Cipro and am taking immodium with me. A guy in our company went to India and ate an apple the first day and ended up in the hospital two days later. I don't want to have that happen to me so I will be careful.
AGM_Cape_Cod is online now  
May 16th, 2011, 02:08 PM
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Have you seen a travel doc/clinic? It's a good idea before you go. Don't just read stuff on the CDC website.

Raita and other yogurt-based foods are made from milk that has been thickened with a bacteria that makes the resulting product quite acid. We ate bananas that we peeled first. Most of the stuff we saw on buffets looked disgusting, so we didn't eat it unless it was hot.
indianapearl is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 04:17 PM
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Is mangosteen and jackfruit available in India? Both are so good, but are they safe to eat in India? Should we avoid the jackfruit if it is peeled already? Just wondering how clean the knife may be. Is this being overly cautious?

Still not clear on the lassi drinks safety. I keep hearing how good they are.
dgunbug is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 04:38 PM
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Avoid any fruit you haven't peeled yourself. I'm fine with lassi drinks, but I seem to have a fairly tough digestive system. YMMV. (I did get sick on my recent trip to India, from chicken curry that wasn't hot enough. The antibiotic (not Cipro) I was carrying fixed it.)
thursdaysd is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 06:08 PM
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Be careful taking Imodium and other meds to stop the diarrhea. Usually it is preferable to allow the diarrhea to continue, miserable as it is, because the bacteria can get out of your system while the Cipro has a chance to work.

Eat at high-end restaurants. Don't eat street food although it often looks and smells wonderful. Don't eat Indian sweets. You may be offered them, but you'll figure out how to politely tell your host you are full and will eat it later back at your hotel (but don't). I don't eat ice cream in India either.

Even Indians get sick from eating food outside of their house! The multinational franchises such as McDonald's will have better food handling practices and better trained employees than the mom and pop type of places.

Pay more and eat at restaurants with the best reputations. If any place looks grungy by your standards, don't eat their food.
Jaya is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 06:28 PM
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"Pay more and eat at restaurants with the best reputations." - doesn't always work. I got sick at the Gateway Coonoor, one of my splurge hotels.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 10:30 PM
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Like thursdaysd, I got food poisoning as a result of eating at a 5* hotel and was quite ill for 4-5 days. Yes these high end places may look cleaner but just because they have better training and facilities it doesn't follow that the training is adhered to or the facilities used. If food hygiene is not ingrained in the culture of a country then your chances of infection will always remain high wherever you eat.

I would be a lot more cautious in India than I would in other parts of Asia but would usually stick to food that freshly cooked (preferably in front of me) and is served piping hot. I have found some of the best and most authentic food in SE Asia at street stalls and markets but would not even consider these places in India.

Many cases of food poising are comtracted as a result of dirty hands or eating utensils. Carry your own utensils and use a hand sanitiser spray.
crellston is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 08:22 AM
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We never got sick at all and I think that one reason is that we were both vegetarians during this trip. We used a lot of hand sanitizer as well and did not eat street food but did not eat at five star resteraunts either. We just made sure that the place looked clean.
live42day is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 12:19 PM
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Being vegetarian is not a foolproof safeguard, although I would agree it helps. Bacteria can hitch a ride on any food item - veg or non-veg.
Jaya is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 08:39 PM
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true Jaya, I agree, it does lower the odds though. The only time my husband got sick when we traveled was when he has fish or meat so decided to go vegetarian this time and didnt.
live42day is offline  
May 29th, 2011, 04:23 AM
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In addition,as much as I love the hot sweet tea the street vendors sell in the north of India in a glass,the rinsing dish of cold un-sterile water they just rinse the many glasses in from each customer [its got to be a saliva cocktail]I will carry my own plastic mug in my bum bag now,as well as plastic straws to drink from if I buy a fresh green coconut in the south this trip on the street.
Im sure the vendors tend to use the same drinking straws over and over.
Both plastic cup and straws are light to carry, and importantly dont forget the dunny paper,and hand sanitiser.
Oh and a camera,its an amazing country for photography.Every minute on the streets is a good photo opportunity,thats why we go there isnt it?.
nomad4u is offline  
May 29th, 2011, 04:29 AM
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Every tried the "Bhang" lassi served legally in Rajasthan?
Wow what a trip!!
Makes you forget your fiery butt!!!!!!
Beware to the newbie though,but usually you can order the strength you can tolerate.
Info here.
nomad4u is offline  

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