Eat and drink safely

Many people suffer from an upset stomach or diarrhoea because of something they have eaten or drunk abroad.

More seriously, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A can be contracted from contaminated food and water. Gourmet open sandwich. © Berit Myrekrok/Getty Images

Don’t get ill

  • always wash your hands after going to the toilet, before handling food and before eating
  • use bottled water if you have any doubts about the quality of the water. Check the seals are unbroken
  • boil water or filter it using a water 'purifier' – this is more effective than sterilisation tablets
  • eat fresh, thoroughly cooked food that is still piping hot
  • avoid food that has been kept warm

You should avoid

  • ice used in drinks and used to keep food cool, unless you’re sure it is made from treated or chlorinated water
  • uncooked fruit and vegetables, unless you can peel them yourself
  • food exposed to flies
  • ice cream from unreliable sources, such as kiosks or mobile traders
  • milk, cheese and other dairy products unless they are pasteurised and have been properly refrigerated
  • undercooked or raw seafood or shellfish
  • excessive amounts of alcohol

Restrictions on personal food imports

It is illegal to bring any meat or milk-based products into the UK from any country outside the European Union, even for your personal use.

There are also limits on bringing back other food items, including fish, shellfish, honey, poultry, eggs and certain types of fruit and vegetables. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website has more information.

The rules apply whether you are bringing these food items back into the UK yourself, if a friend or relative is bringing them as a gift, or if they are sent in the post.

It is not worth bringing illegal food items back into the UK - you risk:

  • long immigration delays
  • your items being seized and destroyed
  • possible prosecution.


See Also

Sick or injured abroad

Useful Links

Defra - information on food import regulations

Travel Checklist


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