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"Food Poisoning" in Mongolia (Ulaanbataar)

20 Feb 2019

According to media reportsmore than 200 people have suffered "food poisoning" after eating at a KFC restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. In early February 2019, 16 people developed diarrhoea, vomiting and high fever. The Metropolitan Professional Inspection Department say 247 similar cases have also been reported, with 42 people being hospitalised.

Bacterial sampling has found Klebsiella and E. coli at the Ulaanbaatar KFC. A further 4 people have contracted a Shigella infection following contact with restaurant staff.

All KFC restaurants in Mongolia have been temporarily closed.

Advice to travellers

Follow local official advice where problems are identified at specified food outlets. 

Hand hygiene when eating and drinking is very important.

  • Where possible, wash hands prior to handling food, eating and always after using the toilet.
  • Handwashing facilities may be poor or not available when travelling, therefore it is advisable to carry sanitising gel or hand wipes at all times.

There are some general rules of food and water precautions. While it may not be practical to follow all of these rules, all of the time, applying them where possible will reduce the risk of travellers' diarrhoea.

  • Ensure that clean dishes, cups and utensils are used; use alcohol wipes to clean them if necessary.
  • If using street vendors, where possible, choose food that is freshly cooked to a high temperature and served immediately while still hot.

Food Precautions

Freshly prepared thoroughly cooked food, served piping hot, including meat and vegetables, is generally safe. Avoid leftovers or food that may have been left uncovered for any length of time.

Note the following:

Meat should be thoroughly cooked and eaten hot.

  • Leftovers and reheated meat should be avoided.

Fish and shellfish can be hazardous even if well cooked. Local advice about seafood should be sought, but when in doubt it is best avoided.

Only consume pasteurised milk/milk products.

  • Unpasteurised milk should be boiled.
  • Cheeses and ice cream are often made from unpasteurised milk. When in doubt these should only be bought from larger well established companies where quality can usually be assured.

Only eat thoroughly cooked vegetables.

  • Salads and fresh herbs (including in drinks) should be avoided.
  • Avoid buffet style food and instead choose freshly prepared, thoroughly cooked food that is served piping hot where possible.

Peel fruit, including tomatoes.

  • Berries, in particular raspberries, may be a source of Cyclospora (a parasite) infection. They are difficult to wash and best avoided.

For further advice see Food and Water Precautions.