Why You Need to Take Food Safety Seriously on a Safari Holiday

POSTED ON 24th February 2016 BY

As you know, food safety is important no matter where you are…

While you’re at home, it’s easier to practice food safety. This is because you’re familiar with the food that you eat, and you know how to prepare it safely. Chances are that safe food handling, for the most part, is second nature when you’re at home.

But if you’re on a safari holiday, it can be more difficult; especially when travelling to a new country. Being unfamiliar with the local foods, customs, and another culture’s standard of food safety can make it difficult to know which precautions you should take to keep yourself safe from food-borne illnesses.

 

Ensuring Food Safety On Safari

Fortunately, many safaris are havens of delicious and safe dining however different types of safari carry varying degrees of risk when it comes to food.

 

Lodges

When you’re staying at a lodge, for instance, or in a luxury tented camp, you will most likely have your own cook who will prepare your meals for you. Not only will they be able to ensure that your meals are safe and prepared according to high standards of quality; in most cases they’ll also be able to cater to any dietary needs or restrictions that you may have.

All of the lodges and luxury camps that we choose have chefs to provide you with excellent food. You won’t go hungry, or have to worry about food safety while you’re there.

Take a look at the video below, to see the story of Joyful Nghala, a lodge chef at Singita Kruger National Park.

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Singita School of Cooking Joyful's story of success

 

Camping

On some budget safaris though, or if you’re camping without a cook while on a self-drive safari, you will need to be more diligent with food safety. This is because often, in these situations, much of the food preparation will fall to you and your group. In these cases, you will be responsible for food safety, and ensuring that safe food preparation procedures are followed. It’s also wise to be vigilant if you plan to venture into the local village markets, or dine in restaurants.

If you’re planning an African safari, here are a few things that you should know about food safety.

African Safari Food

 

Ensuring Food Safety

Generally speaking, as this article explains, six harmful types of pathogens can be found in food items: Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. Parasites are also a significant cause of foodborne illnesses in Africa.

But before you let this put you off of travelling to Africa, it’s important to realise that there are measures that you can take to keep yourself safe.

Part of the reason that Africa has such a bad reputation for food safety is due to the fact that people often think of this continent as one, single entity, and forget that there are actually 53 very different countries within this continent.

In terms of food safety, many popular safari destinations are just as safe as anywhere in the UK.

The most important thing is to be prepared ahead of time.

Research the area that you’re going to, and talk with your safari provider about what you can expect while you’re there. Booking with a reputable safari company is your first port of call, and the best step that you can take towards ensuring that your journey will be pleasant and trouble-free.

Don’t know where to start? I’ve put together some tips to help begin your search.

 

Four Food Safety Tips

While you won’t have to worry about food safety if you’re staying in a lodge, you will want to keep the following tips in mind if you plan to go to the local markets and restaurants, or will be doing your own food prep while on safari.

  • 1. Avoid eating raw food, especially meat and fish, eggs and milk. You should only raw fruit and vegetables that can be peeled or hulled. The NHS provides a list of foods to steer clear of when travelling abroad.
  • 2. Always wash your hands after handling, peeling, or hulling raw fruit or vegetables.
  • 3. Only eat food that is well cooked. Avoid eating foods that appear undercooked or that have been sitting out for an unknown amount of time.
  • 4. Exercise caution when buying food from street vendors. You’ll want to avoid food that has sat out for too long. Look for popular venders that are serving piping hot food, and avoid food that’s sitting out, getting cold.

 

Practice Good Hygiene

Good hygiene is important, especially when you travel.

Wash your hands as often as possible, and carry hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes with you to cleanse your hands during those times that you won’t have access to soap and water.

It’s especially important to wash your hands after using the toilet, touching an animal, or handling raw fruits or vegetables in a market.

Finally, of course, the importance of washing your hands before eating cannot be overstated.

 

Choose Your Water Carefully

Drinking water is important, especially in hot climates, however precautions must be taken when drinking water abroad. Use these 6 golden rules for staying safe and hydrated.

  • 1. Drinking bottled water is the best way to ensure that the water is safe.
  • 2. You can also boil your water for five to ten minutes to sterilise it.
  • 3. Tap water is not safe to drink in many countries so be sure to err on the side of caution.
  • 4. Avoid any drinks that are prepared with tap water, such as juice.
  • 5. Tea and coffee that have been made with boiled water are usually fine.
  • 6. Avoid ice in restaurants because of the risk of microorganisms.

 

Store Food Properly

Food storage isn’t something that you’ll have to concern yourself with at all if you’re staying in a lodge, since all of the food will be prepared for you. But if you’re camping, or on a self-drive safari, it’s important to remember to store your food properly.

Food should always be kept on ice or in a refrigerator to prevent bacteria from growing.

One helpful detail to consider is that when you book a self-drive safari with Safari Drive your Land Rover or Land Cruiser will come with a refrigerator, allowing you to safely store your food.

As a side note, storing food properly will also help to keep wild animals away. For this reason, it’s recommended that you never bring food into your tent while camping.

Watch the amazing video below to see what a Safari Drive camp looks like being set up.

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Timelapse of a night camping at Okonjima in Namibia.

 

Precautions to Take

Sickness can occur at home or abroad, but it’s important to be prepared before you go.

It’s a good idea to bring a small first aid kit with you. While you most likely won’t have to use it, having it with you will give you peace of mind.

It’s also smart to bring oral rehydration salts sachets as these will help to restore electrolytes that can be lost during illness. You may also consider taking along some basic, over the counter Imodium.

While chances are, you won’t encounter any stomach troubles while you’re away, it’s important to go prepared, and exercise food safety while travelling.

Make sure you bring any recommended medications with you and take out travel insurance before you go.

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
Get My Copy!

 

Are You Ready?

Planning your holiday can be an exciting and enjoyable time, so don’t forget to have fun while you prepare for your amazing trip.

An African journey is something that many dream of, and naturally, you’ll want to take steps ahead of time that will help you to make the most of your spectacular trip. If you have friends or family members who have been on an African safari or journey before, you could also ask them for tips and advice. After all, there is nothing quite like firsthand information.

Be prepared, choose your food wisely, and have safe travels.

Planning an African safari? Get a consultation with Safari Drive and speak to our team – we’d love to help you plan your adventure of a lifetime!

 
Photos by John Hickey-Fry and LGO’Brien


5 Responses to “Why You Need to Take Food Safety Seriously on a Safari Holiday”

  1. Alison says:

    Very useful article. I would also recommend to ask a doctor for antibiotics that can be used in case of stomach problems which raise a fever, especially when travelling to remote locations. Usually water is always to blame – that one time you forget to brush your teeth with bottled water … and the results can be quite nasty.

  2. Fabian says:

    You never know what you get out of kitchens at camps and lodges.
    I’m traveling right now with a friend and both of us got stomach cramps after eating in a restaurant at a lodge/chalet thingy in Namibia.
    Lucky enough it was the first time in many years of traveling Africa. Shit happens.
    So we usually cook our own stuff with things bought from Woolies, Spar, PnP, or other supermarkets. Never had any problems wit that. 🙂

  3. David says:

    I agree with Alison. I always take a course of broad spectrum antibiotics with me–my GP recommends Ciprofloxacin which apparently should be suitable to treat respiratory and intestinal infections.

  4. Olli Krumm says:

    On safari the most important issue about food is to be aware not to become the food urself.

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