Traveler’s Guide: Top 10 Countries for Food Poisoning Risks

New Healthnews investigation reveals the 10 places where travelers are most at risk of stomach and bowel issues, caused by consuming contaminated food or drinks. Unfortunately, these tend to be among the globe's most stunning and favored travel spots.


The Healthnews team analyzed data from 36 countries featured in the New York Times 2024 Travel Guide. We monitored the frequency of online Google searches related to food poisoning and its treatments throughout 2023 using the Ahrefs tool. To ensure accuracy, we translated the search terms both into English and native languages.

The total number of searches per country was calculated per 100,000 internet users, taking into account search volumes and the number of people who can access the internet.

CountrySearches*Total number of internet users, M
Sri Lanka9614.6
The Caribbean6926.7
El Salvador644.6
New Zealand514.5
El Camino de Costa Rica424.2
United States33307
United Kingdom 2663

*Number of searches per 100,000 internet users annually

#1 India

india taj mahal

Number of searches: 114 per 100,000 internet users.

Food poisoning is the second most common cause of infectious diseases in India, with 9,646 reported cases between 2009 and 2022. It stems from pathogens like Entamoeba, Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus found in contaminated food and water.

Symptoms typically range from nausea and diarrhea to abdominal pain and fever. Experts recommend stringent hygiene and avoiding raw or undercooked foods to mitigate the risk of foodborne illnesses.

#2 Kenya

Kenya wildlife view

Number of searches: 102 per 100,000 internet users.

In Kenya, food poisoning is traced back to Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium species, Bacillus cereus, E. coli, and toxins like aflatoxin. These pathogens contaminate various food items, from dairy and meats to grains and vegetables.

#3 Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka nature view

Number of searches: 96 per 100,000 internet users.

Sri Lanka also sees a range of foodborne diseases triggered by pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Vibrio cholera. Fungi genera like Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus pose risks as well.

Surveillance data shows that more cases are reported in the second and fourth quarters of each year, coinciding with religious and socio-cultural festivals. The highest number of cases were reported from the Northern, Eastern, and Central provinces.

#4 Indonesia

Indonesia temple view

Number of searches: 84 per 100,000 internet users.

In Indonesia, the homeland of Bali Belly, gastroenteritis from food poisoning frequently results from pathogens such as norovirus, Salmonella, E. coli, and Giardia parasites. These infectious agents can sometimes lead to severe illnesses, including cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, amoebiasis, and giardiasis.

Local food- and water-borne diseases are particularly prevalent due to ineffective public health infrastructure, lack of clean water access, and substandard food safety practices.

#5 Mexico

mexico city

Number of searches: 82 per 100,000 internet users.

In Mexico, food poisoning cases stem from a mix of microorganisms, including E. coli, campylobacter, Giardia, norovirus, Cyclospora, and Salmonella. In 2023, the UK's Health Security Agency (UKHSA) received Cyclospora holiday illness claims from guests who fell ill during their stay at some Cancun resorts.

Given Mexico's rich cuisine and unique food preparation traditions, it's wise to be mindful of whether your stomach can handle what you're about to eat.

#6 Egypt

Egypt pyramids

Number of searches: 78 per 100,000 internet users.

The most common food poisoning cases in Egypt include organophosphate contamination and Salmonella infections. The latter is especially widespread, causing severe digestive issues that require prompt treatment.

#7 Singapore

City view in Singapore

Number of searches: 74 per 100,000 internet users.

In Singapore, foodborne illnesses include bacterial infections caused by pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which may lead to enteric fever and cholera. Adolescents and young adults are notably susceptible to these infections.

In addition, consuming raw or undercooked cockles is linked to outbreaks of hepatitis A, a foodborne virus that infects the blood.

#8 Morocco

Morocco living area

Number of searches: 72 per 100,000 internet users.

Dairy, fish, and fishery products are frequently identified as the most common foods contributing to food poisoning cases in Morocco. They harbor pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Clostridium perfringens, which can cause illness when consumed.

Families, be extra careful when planning your vacation there — research indicates that children are particularly affected and vulnerable.

#9 The Caribbean

Caribbean beach view

Number of searches: 69 per 100,000 internet users.

In the Caribbean, the economic impact of gastroenteritis is estimated to be $21 million annually in the region. Salmonella, norovirus, and Giardia are the most common pathogens, affecting thousands of people every year.

Children aged 1–4 years are particularly vulnerable, with over 40% of food poisoning cases occurring in this age group.

#10 El Salvador

El Salvador wildlife view

Number of searches: 64 per 100,000 internet users.

Food poisoning in El Salvador is often linked to organisms such as norovirus or Salmonella. Lovers of exotic foods, take note: a case study suggests that consuming the sea snail Plicopurpura could lead to serious food poisoning.

Among the countries with the lowest risk of food poisoning are Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Iceland, with search numbers ranging from 3 to 11. A number of factors may contribute to this, such as food safety laws, quality healthcare, high standards in food handling and production, and educational efforts in promoting hygiene.

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