Food & Drink Safety Advice
For Travellers To Gambia
Travellers' Diarrhoea Water
There 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:
Because 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
SEPARATE RAW & COOKED FOOD:
visiting roadside food vendors or buffets in restaurants and hotels,
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
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
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:
water, 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 water
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
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.
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