Is yoghurt safe to eat while travellingMay 12th, 2010
A great question – like much of life, I dont have a simple answer. Long answer follows:
Generally milk products are risky, unless they have been refrigerated, stored correctly etc.
I know several patients who have become ill from drinking a lassi – which is a yoghurt like drink, but that is not quite yoghurt.
I think it depends on the yoghurt – to quote an esteemed colleague in China
” I remember staying in an Indian home in Hyderabad, and the little ritual every evening of heating the milk up to steaming temperature ( not quite boiling – i.e. Pasteurized ) and then covering with a cloth until warm, and then stirring in a teaspoon of yesterdays yoghurt culture, and then leaving covered overnight. I can’t imagine any vegetative bacteria surviving that. The yoghurt is thick and sour and delicious. However, commercially available yoghurt in the food stalls and supermarkets in Beijing tends to be much more runny and sweeter. I worry that stuff has been added to it after culturing, but I haven’t been told the recipe..”
Also to quote another esteemed colleague in Peru
” TELL THEM TO BUY THEIR OWN YOGHURT IN A WELL RECOGNIZED MARKET OR STORE, AND MAKE SURE THAT.. MUST BE OF A WELL KNOW BRAND AND IN A SEALED BOTTLE . THAT WILL GIVE SOME GUARANTEE AND LESS RISK .”
There is a hypothesis that the ‘good germs’ in yoghurt protect from travellers diarrhoea but there is not much evidence to support this theory.
There is some evidence that if you take antibiotics for some reason it helps to get the gut germs back to normal
My suggestion is that it is not the yoghurt that is safe or unsafe – yoghurt has a risk because it could be contaminated after making it – it could have been handled by someone who seeds the food with dangerous bacteria, mixes water or fruit flavouring, stores it in place where could be contaminated etc etc
I think if the yoghurt was fresh and ‘well cared for’, it is probably OK ( and have some Noroxin / Azithromycin handy just in case )