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Should You Risk Food From Street Vendors When Traveling?

Of course, street vendors run the gamut from the hot dog guys on every New York street corner, to the spring rolls in Hong Kong, to the Muffin Man on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta.  What do you think – are you asking for trouble if you indulge in street fare?

Our advice is to avoid street food when at all possible. Street food is usually not prepared in ideal conditions and is an infamous source of contamination. The worst that typically happens is travelers’ diarrhea and children are most at risk. The cause of the diarrhea is usually from bacteria that have grown on food that has been improperly refrigerated or cooked.

Of course, another reason for street vendor food being risky is the poor hygiene prevalent with the vendors. They just don’t have access to hot, soapy water needed to kill germs growing on their hands.

If you must eat street fare you should frequent stands that appear popular and have many locals waiting in line. You are less likely to get sick eating in cities in Western Europe, Japan, Singapore and North America because food preparation and standards are established and enforced.

If you do decide to have food from street vendors on your next trip, just pack Imodium in your backpack as a little bit of insurance.  Bon Appetit!

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