The top 10 worst resorts for food poisoning, from Hurghada in Egypt to Riviera Maya in Mexico

If you’re already thinking about booking next year’s summer holiday, or still planning a late getaway, some new research could save you a whole lot of pain… in the tummy.

A new study has highlighted the world’s food poisoning hotspots and top of the list is Hurghada in Egypt – 380 cases have been reported since the start of 2017.

The next highest on the sickness list was Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, with 211 reported cases.

The investigation, by travel illness claim experts Sick Holiday and food intolerance company YorkTest, found that the resort town of Hurghada, based along 40km (24 miles) of the Red Sea coast, accounted for nearly 95 per cent of all Sick Holiday’s claims from Egypt for that period.

Hurghada has emerged as a favourite holiday spot for Britons – more than 60,000 flocked to the coastal town in 2018, a yearly rise of 39 per cent.

The popularity spike has been attributed to the prospect of more affordable holidays, according to Sick Holiday.

It was traditionally a resort popular with German tourists, but after travel to Sharm El-Sheikh was suspended in 2015 after ISIS terrorists bombed a Russian jet over the Sinai desert, killing all 224 on board, Hurghada became a go-to location for those who want reliable weather without having to spend a fortune.

Other locations with high levels of food poisoning claims included the Riviera Maya coastline on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which includes popular resort Playa del Carmen. In 2017 and 2018 there were 182 cases of sickness recorded.

Across the same period there were 108 incidents reported for Antalya in Turkey, 95 for Mexico’s Cancun resort, 84 claims for Boa Vista in Cape Verde, and 83 for Marrakesh in Morocco.

Richard Conroy, of Sick Holiday, said: ‘The levels of holiday illness we see from certain locations is very worrying.

Top of the list is Hurghada in Egypt – 380 cases have been reported since the start of 2017


01. Hurghada, Egypt – 380 cases
02. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – 211
03. Riviera Maya, Mexico – 182
04. Antalya, Turkey – 108
05. Cancun, Mexico – 95
06. Boa Vista, Cape Verde – 84
07. Marrakesh, Morocco – 83
08. Sal, Cape Verde – 68
09. Majorca, Spain – 66
10. Benidorm, Spain – 62

‘For two years we have received a complaint about Hurghada more than once every two days, a huge number for such a small resort.

‘Food poisoning kills 420,000 people a year worldwide and 600 million people a year are affected by it.

‘We’ve dealt with clients who have been left with crippling joint pain due to salmonella and people who have developed persistent post-infective irritable bowel syndrome following exposure to salmonella or E. coli.’

The study was conducted in conjunction with food intolerance specialist YorkTest Laboratories.

Scientific Director Dr Gill Hart warned tourists to be extra vigilant in high-risk areas, as bouts of food poisoning can carry side effects that linger after the initial illness has subsided.

The biochemist said: ‘Food poisoning can ruin far more than a week in the sun, in certain cases it can carry severe health complications.

‘A particularly nasty bout can develop into longer-term food intolerances, the symptoms of which can include fatigue, headaches, bloating and migraines.

‘Every year, thousands of people also end up with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as a direct result of food poisoning, which is difficult to manage and can cause severe abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhoea and constipation.’

Mr Conroy pointed out that it is ‘concerning’ that such a high proportion of food poisoning is attributed to such a short stretch of coastline, in the case of Hurghada.

He said: ‘The reliably hot weather, unfortunately, brings its dangers.

‘In hot resorts like Hurghada, lukewarm food served at 35C is a prime growing temperature for dangerous bacteria.

‘If you are keeping the food at the wrong temperature and you keep it there for long enough, and it has been cross-contaminated, you will always deliver pathogenic bacteria.

‘Many of these cases of poisoning and illness come from all-inclusive resorts where food is left out for long periods of time before being reheated.’

Mr Conroy added: ‘A single fly can deposit up to 1,000 microbes by landing on food that is waiting to be served, which sometimes has been left out in the heat for hours.

‘All the while the dish will be getting more and more dangerous.’