ZocdocAnswersIs it safe to eat fruits and vegetables rinsed with tap water when traveling internationally?

Question

Is it safe to eat fruits and vegetables rinsed with tap water when traveling internationally?

I primarily eat fruits and vegetables, and I plan to pick up some at a local market once I reach my destination. Is this safe, is it okay to rinse with tap water?

Answer

Traveling can be a very enjoyable, yet very intimidating experience. Medically, there are numerous ailments that can cause your trip to go awry. While each locale has its own set of medical concerns, there are some general rules that can benefit you regardless of destination. It is often advisable to discuss this with your primary care doctor. If you are going to an exotic locale, it may make sense to see a travel medicine specialist, often a infectious disease or general doctor that has specialized in travel medicine. To answer your question, no, it is often not safe to simply rinse fruits and vegetables with tap water. Tap water, which we often take for granted in the US, can be a source of numerous infectious agents including bacteria, viruses and parasites. Plain tap water can be a source of major illness, and is the most often cause of the very common "traveler's diarrhea." Boiling water or drinking bottle water can get around this. With that, simply washing fruits and vegetables in this potentially contaminated source is not advisable. Fresh fruits and vegetables grow and are watered with this same water, so can carry the same disease. Often cooking vegetables and fruits, can help get around this. Ask your primary care doctor for more information. Happy travels!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.