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Foods to Avoid in Punta Cana: What’s Safe to Eat and Drink?

Plate of food with lobster and fried green plantain

If you are planning a trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, it’s important to know a few travel details. One of the most important considerations is what is safe to eat.

There are a few types of foods that you should avoid so that you don’t experience any kind of stomach upset or food poisoning.

Consider the Source

You need to consider the source of the food. If you are staying at a five-star resort in Punta Cana, the food should be absolutely fine, regardless of what you order. This is because they are following good cooking practices.

They are used to tourists from around the globe and therefore follow many of the same regulations as the FDA.

Smaller resorts, independent restaurants, and street vendors, however, do not always practice the same safety in regards to food and preparation.

Fresh Produce

Variety of fruits and vegetables

There may be cross contamination with fresh fruits and vegetables in a kitchen. You can’t be sure what has been washed and what the food might have touched before being given to you. Especially with raw produce, avoid it whenever possible.

If you want to have fresh fruit, choose fruit that you will peel yourself. This includes bananas, oranges, and grapefruits. If the fruit is already peeled for you or it is a kind of fruit where you eat the skin, you would be best to avoid it entirely.

Dairy Products

Local fresh dairy products in the Dominican Republic, including milk and cheese, may not be pasteurized. Some products are exported from companies that pasteurize everything, so it’s best to read the labels.

If the product comes from a street vendor where it is already unwrapped or it has been handmade, it’s best to pass on the dairy products. Otherwise, you could end up with significant stomach upset due to eating on pasteurized dairy products.

Cold, Prepared Foods

Plate of sushi

Sushi, cold shrimp salad, and other foods that are prepared but served cold should be avoided. It should be a rule of thumb to only eat hot food as you know that the heat will be able to kill any bacteria. Unless you’re eating from a reliable restaurant, you don’t know what kinds of practices are being followed in the kitchen.

Particularly with seafood, chicken, and beef, it’s best to leave any cold foods behind so you don’t risk any kind of foodborne illness.

There is a lot of delicious food throughout the Dominican Republic. Simply avoid a few foods so you don’t run into problems. It will result in a better overall experience on the island when you eat the right food.

36 thoughts on “Foods to Avoid in Punta Cana: What’s Safe to Eat and Drink?

  1. Mona says:

    In a few weeks I will be at the Riu Palace Bavaro
    How safe is the food?? Do I have to use bottle water for drinking and brushing your teeth? Also can you use any ice??

  2. Tan says:

    Hi,
    I am traveling to the barcelo bavaro palace in punta Cana. Is it safe to eat and drink there? I am going with three young children and I want to be cautious with what they consume. Thanks for your help

  3. Angela Hope says:

    I am going to Hard Rock Resort in the Dominican in two weeks. Any thing I need to know to avoid before going.

  4. Tina says:

    Traveling to the RIU BAMBU in Punta Cana in July. How’s the resorts reputation with all the crazy things happening the last few weeks.

    • Julie says:

      Seems like the Riu resorts haven’t had any issues—we are going to the Riu Palace Bavaro in just a few days and while I’m nervous and not planning to touch our mini bar I still feel like it’s a safer option than other resorts! If we had booked the Hard Rock or Bahia Príncipe we would have canceled by now. Will try to post a follow-up when we are back!

  5. Valerie says:

    I’m going 4th of July weekend and staying at the majestic mirage have you heard of anyone getting sick there from the food or drinks?

  6. Shonda says:

    We are leaving on the 22nd to go to the TRS Turquesa Hotel. Have you heard anything negative about this resort?

    • Ari Guerra says:

      Hi Shonda, none of the recent negative news has mentioned the TRS Turquesa. I personally haven’t heard anything negative either.

  7. Sharon king says:

    I am going to Viva whyndam heavens in July and with all the stories I am a bit fearful. Also going to Riu Republica in January. Can you give me your advise.? Thanks

    • Ari Guerra says:

      Hi, Sharon here are some facts for your consideration:
      – Total number of US tourists that came to DR from January 2017 to December 2018: 4,311,482
      – Deaths of US tourists in the DR during that same period: 30 (homicide, drowning, car accidents, suicide, other accidents).

      Changing the subject, you might like my recent review on the RIU Republica (https://www.iheartdr.com/review-riu-republica-punta-cana/) I stayed there recently and decided to write it.

  8. Melissa Lash says:

    My family and I are leaving for Fantasia Bahia Principe in Punta Cana on Saturday. Did anyone get really sick during a vacation here? I am so worried, that I am afraid that I won’t be able to enjoy the vacation.

    • Ari Guerra says:

      Absolutely. In your fist, few days go easy on the food and you should be ok. More visits to the toilet than usual during your stay here is normal so don’t be alarmed! that’s just your body reacting to different food, seasoning, etc than what you’re accustomed to back home. As a personal anecdote, when I spent a year abroad in Spain I remember my stomach making these loud sounds (it was shameful since sometimes people thought I was farting!) I later learned every Dominican student also experienced the same thing at one time or another… it was our stomach reacting to the water in Madrid. It had something that we were not accustomed to here in the DR.

  9. Sue says:

    I am going to June punta Cana and I will be staying at tropica princess resort.
    Can you tell me what foods not to eat?

    • Ari Guerra says:

      Food is generally safe in Punta Cana resorts. I say generally because some precautions can be taken to avoid tummy problems. For instance, I tend to avoid raw vegetables or mayonnaise-based recipes. Peeled fruit is ok, cooked vegetables are ok, and really anything that has been cooked is fine. Just keep in mind that your gut bacteria are different than some of the bacteria in DR food (because it’s a different country), the same is true for me if I were to travel to the US… So in your fist, few days go easy on the food and you should be ok. More visits to the toilet than usual during your stay here is normal so don’t be alarmed! that’s just your body reacting to different food, seasoning, etc than what you’re accustomed to back home.

  10. Brian says:

    I will be staying at the royalton baravo witch was just built at the begining of the year
    This will be my first trip to dominican republic.brian

    • Ari Guerra says:

      Hi Eli, sure! generally, food and drinks at the resorts are safe and Be Live is a reputable chain of hotels.

        • Candi says:

          I am going in June with my son and his Senior classmates for post graduation celebration. What about the water? Is it bottled? Is the ice okay?

        • Melinda & Thad says:

          OMGA so happy to hear Be Live is fabulous we are going this coming Friday (April,19,2019). Maybe we will be there at the same time lol!!!

  11. Tracey says:

    We booked occendental carbrie resort. Do that that this problem. We might cancel over revelations any way do to no communication n water n ice and what to eat

    • Ari Guerra says:

      Occidental resorts are reputable and you should have no problems with the quality or hygiene of their food.

  12. Gregory Moreira says:

    I’ll be traveling to Santo Domingo, DR in a few weeks, so I assume the same rules apply there as in Punta Cana.

  13. Pingback: Eating out in Punta Cana | iHeartDR

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