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Jun 25, 2009 03:41 PM

Not getting sick in Mexico

Hi All -

I'm going to Mexico next week and I love to eat - anything.

Any tips on what I should/should not eat while there? For example, is lettuce OK? What about ice? What should I avoid and what can I roll the dice on?


PS - going to Puerto Vallarta.

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  1. Leave the lettuce and raw unpeeled fruits veggies alone. Ice is now all made with purefied water, so it's fine. An acceptable roll of the dice is the bowl of salsa with the chips. I have been sick less than 3 weeks in over 4 years in Mexico, but one was in P.V. - a chunk of smoked marlin I bought in the market. I thought I would have to get better to die. But that was many years ago.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      "Ice is now all made with purefied water, so it's fine."

      True, but sometimes it's what happens aftter the ice leaves the plant that worries me. All too often, block ice is dropped off in the street, to be picked up and used after a while by the street food stand or even restaurants. Better ice is delivered wrapped in plastic film, but how do you know that?

      I've seen this sort of ice malpractice in beautiful Centro Querétaro and in charming, traditional Pátzcuaro. (Today, on the Plaza Chica, where a mariscos cart had not yet set up for the day.) Believe, me, it's the rule, not the exception.

      Ice in the form of cubes or hollow tubes is G.R.A.S., other than improper handling by staff (hands, not with a scoop).
      Well, you can never be totally safe. Enjoy yourself!

      A tip: don't eat raw meat or seafood (carne apache and/or ceviche) at street stands or carts.
      Another: cilantro is washed but rarely disinfected at street and mercado stands; but how can you eat Mexican food without it?

      EDIT: we have been sick in Mexico on more occasions than we can recall. I don't think one can rate any one city as "safe". It all depends on the specific food stand and a variety of variable factors.

      1. re: Anonimo

        We were in PV for a week. Everyone in my family was fine. At the airport on the way back I unthinkingly got iced tea from one of those big metal cannisters at an Arby's or something of the like at the PV airport. I got sick. That's the only thing I can think of, that they used "bad ice" (or bad water)

    2. I've never been sick in Mexico or anywhere else in Central or South America. The closest I ever came was a slight bit of diarrhea in Kenya and Tanzania. Not enough that I took meds. Why do you think you're going to be sick?

      1. PV is very safe--we were there a week (2006) with no issues, eating everywhere--taco stands, small restaurants, etc.

        On another trip (for a wedding in Cuernavaca), some people became ill, others not. I had a lot of fresh lime juice in my drinks and was told that that, plus my love of hot spices helped.

        The only time I was sick in Mexico was 24 years ago in Acapulco, but I think it was more the heat than anything else.

        Eat and enjoy--the food is amazing, and I'm envious.

        1. I've been sick in Mexico seriously on one occasion (fevers, chills, diarrhea), and less seriously on many other occasions. I have a very sensitive stomach. As you can tell from the others who've never been sick, personal constitution can play a big part in how you respond. I'll add that on the occasions that I got very sick, I think it was from a meal at a very nice Italian restaurant.

          My advice: since you are there for such a short period of time, don't take chances. No raw veggies and no raw unpeeled fruits. I'd also steer clear of street stands that don't appear scrupulously clean. Other than that, I can't see any problems (since presumably the hotel will have filtered water and ice).

          The food is fantastic - enjoy!

          1. One of the sickest times in my life was in PV and had to have the Dr's summoned to my suite.
            They believe that it was the fruit and the ice for my drinks that was not clean water.
            That was over 30 years ago and been many more times to Mexico and haven't been sick since.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Beach Chick

              Thank you all! I'll keep all this in mind (and some Immodium in my pocket). ...lou

              1. re: smokeking

                We prefer Pepto Bismol taken at the first signs of intestinal distress. Two tabs every hour, up to the limit written on package directions. Or 2 tsps of Pepto Bismol liquid. Either is very soothing to the tract. Imodium is a last resort that closes you up, leaving the nasty toxins behind.

                Meanwhile, avoid spicy foods, alcohol, & caffeine. Eat caldo de pollo sin grasa, arroz blanco. Sip Coca Cola or Sprite, alternating with nibbles of soda crackers. (Saladitas, por ejemplo.)

                I seriously recommend drinking a whole liter of Pedialyte or Electrolit salts and fluid replacer, at any farmacia; as you as you have the symptoms. Dehydration and electrolytes depletion are the worst dangers of severe diarrhea.Continue with Pedialyte or Electrolit as long as diarrhea is present.

                1. re: Anonimo

                  You're assuming sickness. I don't think that was the question.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    rum and coca light with fresh limes, or coca light with limes. Worked for me!

                  2. re: Anonimo

                    Excellent advice, Anonimo.
                    All of the above is exactly what I would do.
                    However DO NOT give Pepto Bismol to children as it contains aspirin and that is definately not advisable. I'm a firm and loyal Pedialyte drinker...I swear by it and not just when there are symptoms.
                    Secondly, having been sick many times in Mexico (once with amoebic dysentary) I was advised to begin Pepto Bismol before I ever entered keeps the inside of the intestine lubricated so nothing can adhere to it.