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Sport Nutrition Education No. VI - Guideline on Food Hygiene and Travelling Nutrition for Athletes

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Diet precautions are needed in order to ensure athletes will not be sick after eating foods which have been contaminated.

Food Group Safe Food Unsafe Food
Bread and Cereals Cooked rice, pasta, noodles, congee; bread, breakfast cereal Pasta in cold dishes, moldy breads, breakfast cereals which have past the 'best before' date
Vegetables Cooked vegetables, vegetable soup Raw vegetables, salads which are not refrigerated or kept cold properly
Fruits Whole fruits which have been washed, canned or boxed fruit drinks Fruit salad, cut up fruit pieces
Meat Fully cooked meats, including beef, pork, chicken and fish, cooked eggs Raw meats, raw eggs, meats not fully cooked especially pork, fish, chicken, ground beef; beware of shellfish and seafood like oysters, clams, mussels, and fish as they may be contaminated
Milk UHT milk, milk powder; cheese, yogurt and fresh milk which are being kept refrigerated Milk and milk-based sauce which are not refrigerated, fresh milk and UHT milk which has passed the 'best before' date
Others Previously boiled water, bottled or canned soft drinks, bottled water, plain cakes, jelly, cookies, biscuits Tap water, ice cubes which are not made with clean water, foods from street hawkers, desserts like pudding, cream cakes which are not refrigerated

In addition:

  1. Make sure the bottled water sold is properly sealed. When in doubt buy carbonated water since it cannot be refilled.
  2. Clean the mouth of a bottle or can before drinking from it.
  3. When the cleanliness of water supply is in doubt, do not use tap water when brushing your teeth, use previously boiled water or bottled water.
  4. Do not eat foods which you have never had before.
  5. Do not eat foods which have been contaminated by mosquitoes, other insects.
  6. Do not overeat one type of food which you particularly favour, e.g. watermelon, durian.
  7. Wash your hands before eating.

Each country's hygienic status is different but the above guidelines can help prevent food poisoning and stomach upset. Coaches should pay attention to only order foods that are safe and are cooked thoroughly before eating.

Not being able to compete or perform well because of an upset stomach caused by eating the wrong food will be a great disappointment.

Remember Hepatitis A vaccine does not guarantee absolute prevention. Only eating safely plus vaccination can keep one from getting Hepatitis A.

A Travelling Nutrition Kit for Athletes

Athletes often have to train or compete overseas. Foods supply may not be dependable or may not suit the athletes' appetite. Preparing some foods to bring overseas is a safety measure to ensure that athletes will not be depleted in energy or nutrients during competition.

Multivitamin/mineral supplement can make sure that athletes get enough of these nutrients but does not contain energy (calories), therefore, a balanced diet is still needed.

Depending on the number of athletes and duration of the trip, some or all of the following can be taken overseas. If recommendations on what to bring or guidelines on preparing meals is needed, please consult the Sport Nutritionist.

The following is a list of foods from each of the five food groups which are easy and light to carry.

  • Cereal Group
    Instant oatmeal like Nestle, Quaker etc.
    Instant congee
    Instant noodles
    Crackers and biscuits like digestives cookies, soda crackers, arrowroot cookies etc.
    Granola bars like Quaker, Uncle Toby's etc.
    Boxed cereal like Muesli, Toasted Oatmeal etc.
  • Fruit Group
    Dried fruits like prunes, raisins, mixed dried fruits, etc.
  • Vegetable Group
    Canned peas, carrots, corn, etc. (Vegetable supply is usually adequate overseas)
  • Meat Group
    Canned tuna, other meats, canned beans etc. (Meat supply is usually adequate overseas)
  • Milk Group
    Powdered skim or whole milk
    Packaged drinks like Horlick, Ovaltine etc.
  • Energy Foods
    Energy bars like power bar
    Carbohydrate gels like power gel
    Carbohydrate powder like Pocari, Hydrafuel
    Carbohydrate containing recovery drinks like Ultrafuel
    Nutritional drinks like Optifuel, Sustagen, Ensure etc.
  • Others
    Packaged dessert like red bean soup, green bean soup etc.
    Packaged soups like Lipton onion soup, cream soup etc.
    Multivitamin and mineral supplements like Centrum, Theragran M etc.
    Travelling electric pot (available in shops which sell camping equipment)
    Rice cooker (suitable for going on a long trip where home cooking will be needed, e.g. European countries)

For more information, please contact:
Sport Nutrition Unit
Telephone: (852) 2681 6277