are several steps you can take to avoid suffering from
travellers' diarrhoea while on holiday in The Gambia.
But first it is important to note that the difference
between home-grown and Gambian food is the use of more
"natural" fertilisers like manure, which can
carry bacteria that could cause intestinal problems
- also known as Banjul Belly. Below are some basic hygiene
rules to follow before consuming food and drink.
Always Wash Hands:
you are in the tropics bacteria tend to multiply much
faster than back in temperate regions. Do wash your
hands often and always before eating or handling food.
Dangerous microorganisms are commonly found in water,
soil, animals and humans, and can be present on hands
and transferred to food. When visiting village markets,
be conscious of this when handling raw food and in particular
uncooked meat, and wash hands after touching these foods.
When going out on excursions to the Gambian bush or
anywhere outside your hotel try and pack some hand sanitizer
or wipes in case there is no clean water and soap available.
Separate Raw & Cooked Food:
visiting roadside food vendors or buffets in restaurants
make sure that raw food is not in contact with cooked
food which it could contaminate. Avoid any uncooked
food, apart from fruits, vegetables and nuts that can
be shelled or peeled.
Foods containing undercooked or raw eggs, such as locally
made mayonnaise, some desserts and sauces may be contaminated
with salmonella. Raw food can contain harmful microorganisms
which could contaminate cooked food via direct contact.
This may reintroduce disease-causing bacteria into already
safe, cooked food.
Food Must Be Cooked Thoroughly:
general, ensure your food has been well cooked and remains
piping hot. In particular, avoid poultry meat that is
still red or where the juices are pink, raw seafood,
and minced meat, such as in beef burgers that are still
rare due to the fact that they contain harmful bacteria
throughout, and could even have tapeworm larva. Harmful
microorganisms, such as E. coli, are destroyed by proper
cooking which is one of the most effective ways to make
food safe to eat. However, it is essential that all
parts of the food be thoroughly cooked, i.e. reaching
at least 71.1 °C (160 °F) in all parts.
dishes are well known for causing intestinal problems,
as fish build up contaminants in their tissues from
a broad variety of sources. Make sure all fish is well
done. Smaller fish tend to be safer to eat as the larger
ones may contain biotoxins. Fish organs and shellfish
(such as oysters, clams, mussels) should be avoided.
As a general guide the busier a restaurant is the greater
the likelihood it serves fresh, clean and safer food.
As an added safety measure ask that your meal be well
cooked, and take basic precautions. Eating in diners
later in the day reduces the chance that you will get
fed ingredients from yesterday.
Maintain Food At Safe Temperatures:
food, such as cold meat platters, which have been kept
at room temperature for several hours is another important
risk for foodborne illness. Avoid these foods in restaurants,
buffets, and in particular at street vendors and markets
if they are not kept very hot, on ice or refrigerated.
This is because microorganisms can multiply quickly
if food is kept at room temperature. By holding food
piping hot (above 60°C), refrigerated or on ice (at
temperatures below 5°C) the growth of microorganisms
is slowed down or halted.
Choose Safe Water & Food:
ice cream, raw milk and ice cubes can easily be contaminated
with potentially harmful chemicals or bacteria if they
are produced from tainted ingredients or utensils. If
you are in any doubt then it's best to avoid them and
find a different source.
Peel all vegetables and fruits if consumed raw. Reject
those with damaged skin because toxic chemicals can
be produced in mouldy and damaged foods. Green leafy
vegetables, such as salads, can carry germs which are
hard to remove. Sometimes hotels
will add a little chlorine to water in order to rinse
vegetables. If in doubt the hygienic preparation of
vegetables, avoid eating them.
available, bottled water is the safer option for drinking
but always ask that the bottle be opened in your presence
and inspect the bottle-top seal to make sure it is intact
prior to opening. When the safety of drinking water
is unclear, bring it to a rolling boil for at least
1 minute. This will kill most of the microorganisms
present. If boiling is not possible, use of water purification
tablets such as iodine and micro-pore filtration should
be considered. If you still don't have any of these
options then a transparent and colourless plastic PET
bottle filled with cloth filtered water and left on
a roof on a sunny day should do the trick. The so called
SODIS method uses UV rays from the sun to kill pathogens,
but it must be kept in the sun for at least 6 hours.
which are either packaged or otherwise bottled are usually
safe to drink. Be careful of freshly squeezed fruit
juices sold on Gambia's beaches. Make sure that the
juice presser peels the fruit and makes the beverage
in front of you. The only problem is that you will not
know whether they have washed their hands and utensils,
however, they are regulated by the authorities.
Note carefully: [Disclaimer]
Always seek the advice of your medical doctor before
deciding to take or not to take any medications or health
precautions. The above information does not and is not
intended to replace or substitute the advice and / or
recommendation from your doctor or other authorised