Is there any reason why you should not buy roadside meals when traveling in Nigeria? In this post, I will be giving you strong reasons why you should not eat roadside meals when traveling in Nigeria and the list of food items you should avoid while traveling in Nigeria.
When it comes to inter and intrastate traveling in Nigeria, road transportation is one of the most common means of transportation in Nigeria.
Traveling by road is not just the most common means, it is also cheap and can be easily accessed, which makes it one of the best choices the best choice for an average family Nigerians family when traveling back home.
Over 250 car parks are located in Lagos alone, with cars ready for the journey. Most people in Nigeria make it a tradition to visit their home time during festive periods. Before I go into the article in detail, I’ll be sharing a first-hand experience.
I usually travel with my parents and siblings and before these travels, my mum would prepare a meal and store it in a food flask/cooler in case we ever got hungry so I thought. It’s not a bad idea since you’ve been sitting on a bus for close to six hours and over 450Km(Lagos to Onitsha).
But you’d be surprised to know that MOST of these cuisines you decide to “taste” can cause serious damage to your health and in a worse scenario, fatal. Getting sick while traveling is an awful thing, so why risk it?
But some years ago, I traveled to the east, Awka to be specific and on my way home our car broke down in Edo state. Lucky for us, we were close to the car park at Ore, Benin City.
We came down from the bus for minor repairs and in that advent, people(fellow passengers) got hungry and bought a snack and other food for launch.
I am not a voracious eater, so I looked around for something appealing to eat and saw a fellow passenger eating what seems to be wrapped in newspapers. It was suya.
Do not that around March-August 2017, there were a series of disease outbreak in Nigeria i.e. Lassa fever, etc. So, I was not willing to take that chance.
I approached him and asked him “what are you eating?”
“na meat”-he said.
“which meat be that”- I asked.
He was silent. The complete event is stated below. He did not know if he was eating beef, pork or monkey. This was sad.
There is a tendency that we get hungry during long-distance trips (stress eating) and would love to try delicacies and cuisines of local indigenous tribes.
Here is a list of 8 food, items, and drinks you should avoid when traveling in Nigeria.
Barbecue steak is popularly known as locally known as suya in Nigeria. Suya is usually grilled meat sometimes fish. Barbecue steak is served everywhere from hotels to the roadside, beaches and close to popular markets.
It is usually prepared along the roadside to attract their customers. But some of these meat sold along the way are roadkill. Yes, your meat was probably just running over by a car.
We were still at Ore for about 30 minutes (I had already taken Viju milk and gala) waiting for the bus repairs to be completed. Then three men entered the park with a dead dog (which looked like roadkill), 3 cane rat (bushmeat) and a monkey (these looked like they were hunted).
These items were sold to three suya sellers in the park. And I saw them skinning these animals, so it can be used for suya. Not a lot of people have this experience when traveling, the bus is not expected to stay in the car park for more than 20 minutes. Since they stop for just quick meals, refueling and stretches.
This is an unethical business practice, worse it’s dangerous if consumed.
These “meats” are not usually washed with hot water.
Hot water would make it tender and looks old and spoilt (chances of parasitic pathogens in the muscle tissue and skin surface are retained). Undercooked meat often tastes really good but you should consider avoiding it, at least when you’re not 100% confident about its method of preparation.
The CDC also advises against eating “bush meat”, the flesh of undomesticated games and animals. Raw bush meat has been suspected of transmitting dangerous viruses i.e. Ebola, rabies, and other infections and other animal-to-human viruses.
Cooked meat can still be problematic for travelers and other people whose bodies are not well equipped to fight local bacteria.
This makes it dangerous for consumption. Instead of buying suya, prepare pepper soup or make your barbecue steak before you travel.
2. Roasted Plantain
Roasted plantain is popularly known as Bolle. No Bolle is not roadkill but can be equally dangerous. When traveling you get to see more than roasted plantain, you’ll also see fried plantain, plantain chips, and unripe plantain.
Since they have to run after buses when there is traffic, they don’t carry all their wares. They hide them in nearby bushes, hawking only a dozen or two so it doesn’t fall when they run after moving vehicles.
Let’s be honest here, it may be healthy but their method of storage/security is bad. And do note these roasted plantains are prepared from home and carried to the roadside in nylon bags. This can lead to a series of illnesses if consumed and even if the food has been on display for some time, it is susceptible to contamination.
if you do travel, there is a tendency that you will get thirsty. And when traveling, if we don’t bring water that could be a problem.
Water sold along thus highway have had have been exposed to excessive UV rays and are not safe for drinking.
If you want to get a drink, purchase one from a store, shop or vendor in a park or remember to bring along your own bottled water when traveling or wait u get to a car park
4. Local gin
Ogogoro as it is known in Nigeria. local gin is sold along traveling highways and other substances like tree bark, salt, condensed milk other concussion are added to it to make it thicker and more effective.
But when you’re trying to stay healthy while traveling, don’t take it too far that you stray into the potentially dangerous world of ogogoro, palm wine, moonshine, rotgut, hooch, and Igbo.
Questionable water, storage, and alcohol levels of homemade brews do lead to serious illness, especially for uninitiated non-locals. You should avoid taking ogogoro while traveling for your safety and the safety of others.
Agbo is a local home-made brew/medicine usually made with herbs and other substances used to treat certain illnesses.
Nigeria is a country where we believe that Agbo is a cure for all illnesses. And a lot of people have taken advantage of this. There is Agbo for everything HIV, diabetes, malaria, Ebola, etc.
They simply just mix herbal concoction and give it to you to take and you simply consume without any question. Yes, Agbo is quite cheaper compared to other modern medicine, but it’s no reason to put your life at risk.
This is wrong and it’s even more dangerous work while traveling you don’t only put your life at risk, you also endanger the lives of other travelers. It is believed that bitter Agbo does bigger & better jobs to strengthen the immune system and fighting germs and diseases than most modern pharmaceutical drugs.
If you ever feel sick or feel funny be sure to take your medicines before you travel. Bring along your inhaler, meds and other items you might need.
6. Fruits and Vegetables
For a vegan or dietitian, fruits and vegetables are better than meat and other junk foods. But when purchasing your favorite fruit and vegetable, make sure that that fruit is properly washed with clean water.
You should avoid fruits that don’t come with a built-in thick peel/skin/outer layer. Fruits with thick peel are protected from tainted water and soil and are considered safe to eat just about everywhere.
Bananas, mangoes, pineapple, and papayas, Cucumber, garden eggs, oranges, etc. are among the delicious fruit protected by their tough peels.
The World Health Organization advises against green-leafed vegetables, they can contain dangerous microorganisms that won’t necessarily wash off with water. And in places where the water is of questionable quality, washing can compound the problem.
For maximum safety, peel the fruit yourself, and make sure any cutting implements are clean and dry before you start.
Snails are usually sold close to the Niger bridge, they look good and not recommended for consumption. They are exposed to flies and other airborne bacteria, which are harmful to your health.
They can also be the source of some truly gnarly illnesses. I.e. The anisakiasis is a raw-fish-based invasion of worms that infects the human gastrointestinal tract. Seafood poisoning also has worse symptoms like vomiting, stomach ache, chest pains, etc. Snails are roasted not cooked, plus it is poorly preserved.
8. Assorted Drinks and Milk
Again, you should avoid locally prepared drinks should they might cause stomach upset because their preparation is not fit for consumption i.e. Kunu, zobo, soya milk, etc.unpasteurized dairy products like some drinks or ice cream is 150 times more likely to cause a foodborne illness according to the FDA.
So, when traveling always get yourself ready. Especially when it comes to food and money, remember health is wealth.
This is our shortlist of foods you should think twice about before eating while traveling in Nigeria, especially if you’re in a place where water quality is an issue.
And before you start eating the local cuisines, remember that you haven’t spent time (years) to train your immune system to withstand the local bacteria. But take heart: At least cake, bread, chin-chin, Gala is usually safe wherever you go if it has not expired.
This list was not made to destroy anyone’s business, instead, you can choose to change your bad business practice if you indulged in one, and give an idea to take better care of your health.