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How I Improved My Travel Food Safety With Freedom Foods In One Day

INSHAPE NEWS LIFESTYLE – How I Improved My Travel Food Safety With Freedom Foods In One Day

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It’s a fact, around 600 million people – almost 1 in 10 globally – fall ill after eating contaminated food yearly according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and a recent Lonergan Research survey found 1-in-4 Australians travelling to at-risk destinations fell ill on their last trip. So, how can you avoid getting sick when travelling?


Let’s face it, many of us take what we eat and drink for granted. We don’t really consider how safe it is before we put it in our mouth. Plus, most of us don’t think about the consequences of our actions until it’ s too late, and that belly ache begins.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way when we travel, if we’re smart. This means leaving our Western ways at the airport terminal and adopting a new philosophy as we head to that plane.

Dr Joanna McMillan, a nutritional advisor for Freedom Foods, believes that enjoying traditional cuisine is part of travel. However, adopting an approach to travel food safety will prevent you from getting sick. A part of that strategy is understanding what actually causes illness in the first place.

“When we travel we are exposed to different microorganisms, and these can cause us some upset, even when not pathogenic – they are simply new to us,” said Dr Joanna McMillan. “Then there are also pathogens that can cause serious disease and/or long term effects on our health.”

“Therefore, to minimise the risk when you are travelling to less developed countries, you are best to consume piping hot food, freshly prepared rather than food that has been sitting in the hotel buffet for some time. Also, avoid salads that may have been washed (or not washed) in contaminated water.”

“I also recommend drinking only bottled water and avoiding ice cubes in your drinks. As well as washing your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating.”

A recent survey backs Dr McMillan’s suggestions.

1-in-4 Australian Travellers Fall Ill 

A recent study of 1041 Australian travellers conducted in May 2017 by Lonergan Research found that a high number were falling sick when travelling to ‘at-risk’ countries. The key findings of this research include:

  • Over half (52%) of all overseas travel by Australians was to at-risk countries.
  • On their last trip, 1-in-4 Australians travelling to at-risk destinations fell ill.
  • Three-quarters of Australians who fell ill said this impacted negatively on their trip.
  • Half (49%) who fell ill said it had something to do with eating and drinking.
  • 1-in-5 Australians drank tap water while overseas.
  • Over half (56%) of Australian travellers brushed their teeth using tap water.
  • Nearly half (47%) who travelled to an at-risk region consumed a drink with ice in it.
  • Recent NSW Health Department statistics reveal that some two-thirds of the state’s  hepatitis A cases relate to overseas travel.

Why Freedom Foods Help Travel Food Safety

Dr McMillan, who holds a PhD in nutrition science and subsequently co-authored the International bestseller “The Low GI Diet” with Professor Brand-Miller and fellow dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell, accepted a position with Freedom Foods, a ‘free from’ allergens Australian food manufacturer. So, what drew Dr McMillan to Freedom Foods?

“I’ve always felt that the best way to have influence over the food products we have available to us is to work closely with the food industry,” said Dr McMillan.

“Freedom Foods have impressed me with their commitment to wanting to produce the healthiest products possible. They have an in-house dietitian, as well as me, both with PhDs in nutrition science and this is a sign of their commitment to staying up-to-date with nutrition science and putting this knowledge into practice,” she said.

Freedom Foods and the Australian Food Industry

According to the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Australia’s Food and Agribusiness sector, which includes food-related agricultural production, food processing and other major inputs, produced $53.9 billion in industry value in 2014-15. Freedom Foods is a part of this industry, which has grown at a rate 6.1 percent per year, over the last ten years.

Given that this industry is expansive, just what has Dr McMillan gained personally and professionally from her role with the company since she began?

“Professionally I have learnt a great deal about the practicalities of taking products from conception to market,” said Dr McMillan.

“Products have to be tasty to the consumer, fall within the right price range for the consumer, while being profitable for the company, and meet the nutrition criteria set. This is not always as easy as it seems, understanding the obstacles and solutions are key to making a great product range,” she said.

“I’ve especially enjoyed working on the Messy Monkeys range and the Barley+ range, as these target two important topics – kids nutrition and gut health – both key areas of interest for me.”

“Personally I’ve enjoyed working with a terrific group of people from those in-house at Freedom Foods, to those in the PR and communications team. We really do work as a team to bring good nutrition information to health care professionals and the public.”

It’s Dr McMillan’s desire to inform the public about better food practices that have led to her suggestions for increased travel food safety.

What Freedom Food Products are Ideal for Travel?

Dr McMillan suggests a range of Freedom Foods help to improve travel food safety, even if your travel just for the day. These include the Barely+ range, Free From range and Messy Monkeys.

“The Barley+ range of muesli and bars are stand out in that they deliver the diverse range of fermentable fibres in the quantities required to make a measurable difference to gut health. Other products may be high in fibre, but we now know so much more about the diversity and roles of different fibres, and many of these products lack this diversity,” said Dr McMillan.

“The Free From range of products continue to be market leaders and a trusted source of products that are suitable for those with allergies and intolerances to gluten, dairy or nuts. This allows far greater choice for those requiring special diets,” she said.

“Finally, the new Messy Monkeys range fills a much-needed space for healthier kids snack and lunch box foods. There are not many products that tick the nutrition boxes and these really are head and shoulders above the rest.”

Dr McMillan’s Top Travel Food Safety Tips

Aiming to keep you healthy as you travel, Dr McMillan suggests looking for the veggies.

“I always order extra veggies or salad on the side and make sure I fill up on these rather than the chips, white bread or dessert,” said Dr McMillan.

But, this is not the only travel food safety tip that she has to offer. Dr McMillan also suggests looking for simple snacks, to only eat when hungry and to enjoy local foods.

“Avoid eating between meals unless you’re really hungry and then go for simple snacks such as nuts or fresh fruits,” she said.

“Eat slowly, so you have time to listen to your body cues as to when you have had enough to eat.”

“And above all enjoy the local foods. Learning about and enjoying different traditional cuisines is a part of travel to me and being too particular about what you eat takes joy away.  What you eat most of the time is much more important for your health than what you eat on a short holiday.”

What Foods are Most Travel-Friendly & Nutritious?

According to Dr McMillan, aeroplane food is not always the best. Therefore, she recommends taking a few snacks with you.

“If I’m on a short flight, over a mealtime, I usually pick up a salad or whole grain sandwich at the airport to take on board rather than rely on the onboard packaged meal,” said Dr McMillan.

“On longer flights take a bag of nuts, seeds and dried fruit to snack on, or a good quality cereal bar such as Freedom Foods Barley+ bars.  Once I’m on location I enjoy the local foods on offer.”

Travel Food Safety When Eating Out While Travelling 

Undoubtedly, one of the best parts about travelling is experiencing the local foods and culture. So how can you think travel food safety when eating out in another country?

“Almost every country has nutritious local offerings,” says Dr McMillan, “It’s only modern highly processed foods that tend to cause problems.”

“If you keep in mind the basic foundation of eating lots of plant foods, meats and seafood, opting for whole grains over refined, not too many sugary treats, and looking for healthy fats rather than refined, you’re on the right lines,” she said.

“Finally, just watch portion size as eating out often involves larger plates of food than you would serve yourself at home.”

Using the Freedom Foods Mantra When Next Travelling

Freedom Foods promote living a healthy lifestyle – positive energy, healthy weight, healthy heart and healthy mind – so how can you as a traveller utilise these tactics when you next travel?

Dr McMillan believes that staying active whilst travelling is the key.

“Walking to explore the area, engaging the mind by enjoying and being adventurous with the local cuisine, expanding the mind through learning how other people in different parts of the world live, and embracing travelling with energy and pleasure. This is all part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr McMillan.

About Dr Joanna McMillan

Dr Joanna McMillan is one of Australia’s best-known health, nutrition and healthy lifestyle experts. She is a regular on television and is the official nutritionist for the Today Show, as well as radio and print media. She is director of her own small but growing company Dr Joanna which runs an online lifestyle change program Get Lean.

In August 2016 Joanna was appointed Nutritional Advisor for Freedom Foods Group, makers of great tasting, high quality, healthy foods and beverages with a focus on wholesome, tasty, allergen- ‘free foods’. Joanna acts as a media and consumer spokesperson for the brand and will be involved with their social media profile.

About Freedom Foods

Looking to create healthy alternatives to what was sitting on the supermarket shelves Freedom Foods, founded in 1990, followed the adage, “To make something good, you have to make it yourself.” As such, the company got to work and created wholesome, tasty, allergen-free foods seldom found elsewhere.

From here Freedom Foods developed the ‘free from’ movement in Australia. Plus, the company helped establish the health sections found in supermarkets and adopted the most stringent allergen testing practices in the country.

Learn more about the Freedom Foods process.

Today, Freedom Foods guarantees that its foods are ‘free from’ wheat, rye, barley triticale and nuts. How? Well, they follow strict standards and pay attention to detail. Consequently, they now manufacture over 30 products and are continually looking at ways to improve their foods.

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