Street food a risk

The reader’s letter titled “Chancing Street Food in India” (Aug. ’07, pg. 71) provokes a response. She wrote that despite her “semi-suicidal” practice of eating from street vendors in India, she and her traveling companion never got sick, and she would have missed out on a lot of the best of India had she been more cautious on food consumption.

I don’t think her letter should be left unanswered without warnings about the risks that go with throwing caution to the winds in eating in Third World countries.

As an example, a few years ago my wife and I took a small group tour of Morocco. Our tour escort (one of the two worst we have ever had) encouraged people in the group to eat fresh fruit from an outdoor market. After observing the flies buzzing around, my wife and I declined — and were healthy for the whole trip. Several people in the group, however, indulged. Everyone who did so became badly ill and remained so for the duration of the trip. The tour escort himself got sick and had to be replaced for one day of the tour.

The lesson from all this is that there is a potential price to be paid for risky behavior, and travelers should think through whether the gains outweigh the potential cost before taking a chance.


N. Bethesda, MD