Food Safety in Turkey: Information and Tips

Author : isturkeysafe


Last Update : 6/8/2019

The Turkish cuisine is considered paradise for tourists in terms of variety and quality. For this reason, you should try to taste as much food and drink as possible during the holiday. However, on the other hand, this diversity also reveals food safety problems. Is it safe to eat and drink in Turkey?
  • When it comes to eating, care should be taken in eating fast food-style foods such as Doner, Kokorec; especially in the summer months. Deterioration can be observed in meat that is waiting outside for a long time in hot weather, which can lead to food poisoning. If this kind of food is preferred, the crowded restaurants where meat is in constant consumption should be chosen. Again, care must be taken in the same way for common cooked food (“Sicak Yemek” in Turkish) restaurants in Turkey. Apart from these, you can safely eat kebab, pita, seafood-style food which are taken out from refrigerator and cooked after order.
  • Food sold on a bench on the street is usually not undergoing any inspection and control in Turkey. Therefore, perishable food sold on the street is not safe. Below are details for mussels, chickens, kokorec and meatballs.
    • In Turkey, mussels are cooked by putting rice in it. Hygiene rules are not strictly obeyed during the production stages of the mussels sold on the street in Turkey. The sales environment can give you an idea about this. You cannot know how many days ago the product was cooked. When you ask, all the sellers say that they were made that day, but you can't understand the difference between fresh and deteriorated mussels. In addition, the production source is very important even if the hygiene conditions are ensured during the production. Mussels caught in clean waters do not contain toxic and harmful substances. But the opposite is valid for mussels caught in polluted waters; they can contain toxic and harmful substances. Especially if there is sewage connection in the area mussels are hunted, the risk is quite high. Because heavy metals in the water cannot be sufficiently filtered by mussels, these heavy metals are collected in the fleshy part of the mussel. This causes exposure to heavy metals when eat. Therefore, mussels eat from street vendors in Turkey is not safe at all. Recently, restaurants selling mussels have been opened. Eating mussels from these restaurants is safer because they are under government control (periodic inspections are made by local authorities) and they usually use mussels grown in controlled pools.
    • You can see chicken-rice sold on the street in many places in Turkey. Unfortunately, these sales points are often out of control. The chicken can easily be deteriorated out of the refrigerator. After the day it is produced, it can be highly toxic and even life-threatening if not stored properly. For this reason, it is better to stay away from chicken-rice sold on the street, especially in the summer; chicken-rice sold in the street is not safe to eat.
    • What is kokorec? Kokorec is a food made from sheep's intestine and sheep's internal fat. The mixture is usually cooked in a charcoal fire. The origin of this food goes back to the Greeks. Nowadays it became one of the most famous Turkish fast food. So is kokorec safe to eat? It depends where you eat. Note that the thing you eat is the intestine, the entire discharge of the animal takes place through this organ. If not cleansed well, eating kokorec can be dangerous due to bacterial contamination. In addition, the traditional kocorec service involves the breaking up into slices of the fire-cooked intestine with knife's knocking melodies on a wooden table (even if you do not eat kokorec, you must experience this environment). If you look closely at this table, you can see that it has been engraved with knife movements over time. Due to the nature of wood, it must be washed very well for use for meat products, bacteria can penetrate into the wood. Cleaning of wood also poses a risk in terms of hygiene. And finally, intestine can be stored out of refrigerator for a while, you cannot be sure about the freshness. So, it may be better to prefer restaurants that cook Kokorec rather than the ones sold on the street.
  • Food allergies are also issue to be aware of during a visit to Turkey. A large number of different ingredients and spices can be used in the Turkish cuisine as a result of the variety. For this reason, if you have any food allergies, you should be sure about the ingredients by asking directly to chef at the time of ordering (you may also ask waiter but keep in mind that the waiters are responsible for serving, they do not know about the contents much).
  • Helicobacter pylori bacteria is very common in Turkey which causes stomach problems. The bacteria are observed about 10% of humans in developed countries, where the world average is 50%. Unfortunately, about 80% of the entire population in Turkey predicted to have this bacterium. Moreover, due to the misuse of antibiotics in Turkey in the past, resistance to antibiotics is higher than average in Turkey (Click here for the source about Helicobacter resistance in Turkey). The bacteria are easily spreaded through humans. So, what should you do to avoid this bacterium? Unfortunately, there is a risk of helicobacter contamination in every food product eaten fresh. For this reason, you can get these bacteria from a salad you eat even in a very famous restaurant. If you have a previously diagnosed stomach disorder, you can consider avoiding food such as salad to avoid this bacterium.
  • Please pay attention to the expiry date when buying a product from the supermarket. In some markets, you may encounter products that have expired due to the lack of control.
  • Sometimes at the restaurant you go to meal, the entertainment during the service can be dangerous. The safety measures are not adequate for these entertainment activities made during the service. In the world famous Steak Restaurant Nusr-Et (Instagram star 'Salt Bae's restaurant chain), recently a serious accident happened in this regard (click for the news about the accident at Nusr-et Restaurant). If you do not want entertainment, warn the waiter prior to service. For example, the restaurants serving traditional Turkish Kebab 'Iskender' serves the boiled butter after the kebab served to you, which means at least a liter of boiled oil is being moved over your table. Keep away from this kind of shows.
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