Every year, roughly 40 million tourists visit Mexico. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with tourism contributing to the local economy. While Mexico is a great place to visit and highly recommended, there is always a chance you get sick.
Food poisoning is one of the most common ailments for travelers. We often hear about food poisoning outbreaks associated with a resort or cruise. This is caused by unsanitary practices in the kitchen. But that is not the only source of food poisoning in Mexico.
Whether you are visiting Mexico only or stopping off as part of a cruise (check out: Staying Healthy on a Cruise Ship). In this article, we will dive into the causes, symptoms, and best practices for avoiding food poisoning while on vacation in Mexico.
6 Main strains of bacteria cause food poisonings, such as Salmonella or E.coli. These can easily accumulate in poorly maintained kitchens and spread due to a lack of sanitation. Here are the main causes of food poisoning in Mexico.
Food can become contaminated when it’s not refrigerated. Have you ever watched Kitchen Nightmares where Gordon Ramsay investigates kitchens? Oftentimes, poorly managed kitchens will not have properly stored meat. This is a recipe for disaster.
Cooked food often becomes contaminated when stored in proximity to raw meat. When meat sits out for too long it will build up bacteria. This can spread to vegetables or other items we eat.
If someone were to handle raw or contaminated food with their bare hands and forget to wash thoroughly they can spread bacteria around. This will then make it easy to spread all over every surface they touch afterward.
When we get food poisoning the bacteria release toxins that are poisonous to people. These toxins are what cause vomiting which is the body’s natural reaction to threats like these. It’s best to just let the body do its thing in this case. Better out than in!
When we get an infection caused by bacteria our bodies are less capable of reabsorbing liquids (water) and this results in diarrhea. Diarrhea is one of the worst side effects of food poisoning but is really unavoidable if it happens.
The same things that cause vomiting & diarrhea when you get food poisoning can also cause abdominal irritation and cramping. This is very uncomfortable. A pain killer may help ease the effects.
You may develop a fever when overcome by food poisoning. This will result in a higher temperature and possibly a headache. This is your body using extra energy to fight the infection and should last for too long.
Your body stops absorbing water like it usually does… you lose a lot of fluids when you have food poisoning due to excessive vomiting & diarrhea.
As your body fights infection and recovers.. it diverts all your energy to fighting the cause. This can result in blurry vision, muscle weakness, and extreme fatigue. Don’t fight it. Just rest up, drink lots of water, and hope to feel better soon.
Washing your hands regularly is one of the best ways to avoid food poisoning in Mexico. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times. Bacteria can cling to any surface and you never know what someone else touched before you.
Before planning your next meal in Mexico, do a little research. Try and pick places with good reviews on google or yelp. This will reduce the chances of getting food poisoning as these establishments clearly have good hygiene and sanitation practices.
Do not drink tap water. If you live in the United States, tap water might be perfectly fine. The same cannot be said for Mexico. Make sure to stay hydrated by always drinking bottled water. There are bacteria and more in the tap water and it can make you violently ill.
While boiling water kills germs and bacteria, freezing it does not. When traveling in Mexico be sure to ask for no ice in your drinks and stick to bottled water.
If you find yourself really hungry and unable to locate a reputable restaurant, generally places popular with locals are where you should look to go. Don’t eat at an abandoned food cart, find a busy one.
When you are served, be sure to inspect the food, if you have meat on your plate cut through it to ensure it’s cooked all the way through. If it’s even a little bit undercooked you could be in for a nightmare situation. Return it and either leave or ask for it to be cooked better.
While a salad is always a great meal, often it’s not something popular with locals and is on the menu to serve westerners. This is an issue because salads can be covered in bacteria and will certainly give you food poisoning if not properly washed.
Street food can be some of the best you will have while traveling, and also some of the cheapest. This is risky though, as the food is prepared out in the open and susceptible to dirt and germs. Try to find popular street food spots or research the best ones instead of just sitting down randomly to eat.
I have never been sicker than I was after eating a hamburger at a local restaurant in southern Cambodia. Local restaurants, in places like Mexico, specialize in local cuisines. But Western food like burgers is very risky. Ground beef is a magnet for bacteria. If at a local spot, eat local food.
These are often prescribed before a trip and should be taken if you develop traveler diarrhea (which is usually food poisoning anyways). Go see a travel doctor at home before you travel.
The vomiting and diarrhea that result from your body trying to flush out the system will result in losing a ton of water. This could lead to severe dehydration. Make sure to load up on clean, bottled, or filtered water (avoid ice if you can). Try adding these electrolyte tablets to your water to help you recover.
Rest can often be the best remedy. You will feel weak and tired if you are suffering from food poisoning so don’t push yourself. It does put a damper on a vacation but you want to feel better as soon as possible so try to rest up.
Probiotics are really good for your overall health. These help to boost your natural response and can help fight food poisoning. Visit Amazon to get some before your next trip. Speak to a doctor before taking any over-the-counter supplements.
Antibiotics are the number one cure if your food poisoning is caused by bacteria. They have to be prescribed so see a doctor if you have symptoms.
Well, there you have it, our best advice on how you can avoid food poisoning in Mexico. Mexico is a great country and one of the top tourist destinations in the world. White sandy beaches, amazing history, and welcoming people await you. Food poisoning can derail a vacation. Always be diligent, research places you plan to eat, wash your hands and avoid the ice. Enjoy the vacation and thanks for reading!