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Water and food

Water in Peru is better than it used to be, but it can still trouble non-Peruvian (and even Peruvian) stomachs, so it's a good idea to only drink bottled water ( gua mineral), available in various sizes, including litre and two-litre bottles from most corner shops or food stores. Stick with known brands, even if they are more expensive, and always check that the seal on the bottle is intact, since refilling with local water is not uncommon. Carbonated water is generally safer as it is more likely to be the genuine stuff. You should also clean your teeth in bottled water and avoid raw foods washed in local water.

Apart from bottled water, there are various methods of treating water whilst you are travelling whether your source is tap water or natural groundwater such as a river or stream. Boiling is the time-honoured method which will be effective in sterilizing water, although it will not remove unpleasant tastes. A minimum boiling time of five minutes (longer at higher altitudes) is sufficient to kill micro-organisms. In remote jungle areas, sterilizing tablets like Potable Agua or liquid iodine are a better idea, although they leave a rather bad taste in the mouth. Pregnant women or people with thyroid problems should consult their doctor before using iodine sterilizing tablets or iodine-based purifiers. In emergencies and remote areas in particular, always check with locals to see whether the tap water is okay ( es potable?) before drinking it. For more information check out www.gorge.net/ham/.

Peruvian food has been frequently condemned as a health hazard, particularly during rare but recurrent cholera outbreaks. Be careful about anything bought from street stalls, particularly seafood, which may not be that fresh. Salads should be avoided, especially in small settlements where they may have been washed in river water or fertilized by local sewage waters.



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