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Safe eating in Istanbul

I have been looking at videos of people eating in Istanbul. I see some people eating the fish sandwiches by the water with raw onions and salad toppings. Also I see people adding raw topping to their Turkish pizzas, etc. I have heard this is a way you can get sick. I love raw toppings like onions! It seems a shame to not be able to eat the Turkish food the best way, like the Turkish do themselves! What are peoples thoughts? Can I have the salad in indoor restaurants, but not for street food? Has anyone who hasn't built up resistance in an area gotten away with eating like this? My last day in Hong Kong I bought a pile of things to try in the market. I carefully scrubbed peeled and ate. I figured, if I got sick it would be on the flight home. At least I wouldn't miss a day of travel. I was however eating only things I was able to peel!
Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by
20 posts

I spent about 2 weeks in Turkey and didn't get sick until my last day. However, we had just spent 4 days in Selcuk before returning to Istanbul so most likely I slipped up there or picked up some kind of illness. Of course, don't risk it if you're not able to deal with missing a day of fun if you get sick!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for your reply. Do you remember if you ate any raw vegetables or fruit? Also did you try any of the ice cream from the outside stands? I also read somewhere this can cause some stomach trouble.

Posted by
13930 posts

I ate raw fruits and vegetables only in hotels and what appeared to be clean restaurants (per the RS book). I did get fresh pomegranate juice once from a stand, but I regretted it because they don't strain the juice.

The reason RS gives for not eating stuff is that the water used to wash them isn't potable.

Posted by
20 posts

I don't recall eating any raw fruits, vegetables or ice cream from the street vendors but know that we ate anything we wanted from the restaurants.

Posted by
338 posts

You will probably be OK eating whatever you'd like, with emphasis on the word "probably". I've never taken any precautions in my travels to Turkey and never had a problem in Istanbul. However, many years ago I picked up giardia in the greater-Adana area from what was probably fresh produce washed with water that was not clean. That was the same trip where I inadvertently ate cig kofte (raw lamb meatballs), so that could have been a factor too. Anyway - I think you'll be fine eating whatever you'd like in cities and bigger towns. In smaller villages you might want to stick to fully cooked items and bottled water.

Bon appetite!

Posted by
16764 posts

Rick's (and his Turkish co-authors') recommendations against drinking tap water are just for Istanbul, where the population is growing faster than the infrastructure, not for the rest of western Turkey. I have eaten and drunk everything in Turkey without issue on three visits. I did avoid Istanbul tap water on the last trip, based on that advice, but still ate salads in restaurants.

Posted by
1146 posts

We've been to Turkey twice and have eaten ice cream from the outdoor stands and fruit from markets. We did not have any problems but they could happen to anyone at any time.