To be a victim of food poisoning, that’s something that nobody wants to experience when traveling in a new country.
Unfortunately, I was one of these victims, and in my case I got salmonella. I was sick for a total of 3.5 weeks during my six month trip through Asia, which ruined my exciting journey through India and also most of the time in Indonesia.
In this article, I will share my best tips on how to avoid food poisoning in India – so you can enjoy your stay without spending most of your time in the hotel bathroom!
Why it is so important to be careful in India?
If you come from the western world and planning to travel in India for the first time, then there’re some things that you should know before traveling.
India is a cool and exciting country, but unfortunately, the hygiene is not always the best. As you might know, a big part of the people are pretty poor, so it’s not that easy for them to keep their hygiene on top.
India has many local bacterias and viruses that your immune system might can’t handle – and therefore it’s good to be prepared before arriving.
Since many of India’s people can´t afford to keep a good hygiene, then it’s extra important for you to be careful with your hygiene. There are many explanations why it’s easy to get sick in India – but here are some of the biggest reasons;
- Most Indian people wash their bottom with their hand after using the toilet
- Several people can’t afford washing their hands with soap
- The locals use tap water to rinse fruits and vegetables – but also to clean their kitchen utensils
- Meat dishes that are not cooked properly
What you should do to avoid food poisoning in India:
Use hand sanitizer or wash hands
Always use hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap before your meal. It applies at all time and not only when eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Even when you eat a light snack you should use hand sanitizer if you haven’t washed your hands with soap.
Don’t drink tap water and don’t order drinks with ice
It’s important not to drink the tap water in India since it contains several bacterias that we can’t handle. Tap water is actually one of the most common reasons why people get sick. A tip is also not to brush your teeth with tap water nor order drinks with ice to prevent food poisoning.
Try to avoid the delicious street food
I must say, the street food in India is amazingly delicious, so I won’t courage you to stay away from it completely. But, since there’s a big chance for you to get food poisoning at some of the finest restaurants around the country – imagine how big the chance is that you get it from a food stall.
If you decide to eat street food in India, eat vegetarian food and choose your food wisely.
Don’t eat fruits and veggies
When traveling through India, it’s important to avoid uncooked fruits and veggies. The stalls and restaurants around India often rinse their raw materials in tap water – and like I mentioned before, tap water contains several bacteria.
It can be pretty difficult not buying fruits from stalls throughout India since many juice drinks and fruits look so good. But for your own sake – don’t. Eating uncooked vegetables and fruit is one of the biggest reasons why people get stomach flu and food poisoning in India.
Consider being a vegetarian
My best advice when it comes to food in India is to eat vegetarian food. It can be pretty difficult to know if your dish is cooked properly or not, and therefore it’s best to exclude meat entirely.
It’s pretty common to get sick from the E. Coli bacteria and Salmonella, as well as several other parasites and bacteria in food that’s not cooked properly. As I mentioned, I was a victim of salmonella during my trip to India, and I really wish that I had been a vegetarian the whole journey. I got salmonella from one of the finer restaurants in Jaipur, so be careful!
Prepare for your trip by eating spicier food
Before you travel to India, it might be a good idea to prepare your stomach by eating spicier dishes at home. Even though you can order less spicy dishes at restaurants, it’s still common that they are much spicier than you think, because we have different ideas of what spicy means. Prepare your stomach with spicy food, so your stomach won’t get a shock if you get a spicy dish at some of the restaurants in India.
Should I eat with my hands or not?
Some people find it fun to eat with their hands in India. It can actually be more hygienic than using forks and knives available on restaurants around the country. You know if your hands are clean or not, but not if the cutlery is.
If you now choose to eat with your hands, then remember to be extra careful with your hygiene. Make sure that you don’t have dirt under your nails and use hand sanitizer before your meal if you haven’t washed your hands with soap.
Don’t be stingy when it comes to food
One thing that I learned in India was that the food isn’t as cheap as you might think it is. Sure, you can get away cheaply, but then you have to eat street food every day and expose yourself a little extra to the risk of getting food poisoning in India.
If you want to be on the safe side – go to the best and most popular restaurants in town and eat vegetarian dishes. At finer restaurants, hygiene is often better. If you want to eat meat, then it foremost doesn’t matter if you eat street food or at a nice restaurant – meat can always be cooked in the wrong way and make you sick.
A tip is to go to restaurants that have good reviews online from former guests – in that way you can get an insight if the restaurant is good or not.
Summary of what you should do to avoid food poisoning in India:
- Use hand sanitizer or wash hands with soap
- Do not drink or brush your teeth with tap water
- Order drinks without ice
- Try not to eat meat
- Consider whether it’s more hygienic to eat with your hands or the available cutlery at the restaurant
- Do not be stingy when it comes to the choice of restaurants, choose them with care.
I hope my tips will be useful when you travel to India. It’s such a cool and lovely country so it would be a shame if you would expose yourself to unnecessary risks of getting food poisoning.
If you have any other questions about food poisoning in India, leave a comment below!
I’m flying into Hyderabad in a couple weeks. Thank you for the great info.
Hi Bob! You’re welcome :) Have a nice trip to Hyderabad!