I know we’ve all had those sad (and sometimes embarrassing) travel stories that usually involve trying something new, being too lazy to use bottled water for brushing your teeth, or eating that deliciously ripe piece of fruit that ends in… shall we say intestinal discomfort? Particularly after such an incident, you’ll ask yourself — more often than not while traveling internationally — “can I eat (or drink) that?”
The answer to this question that can make or break your trip is now available through an app on your smart phone. It was developed by the same government agency that gave us tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The app is easy to use; all you need to do is select the country you’re visiting from the list. For example, let’s say Tanzania in east Africa.
The second step is to select eating or drinking; we’ll choose eating.
The app asks if you got it from a street vendor, yes or no.
If you choose yes, the app says (in no uncertain terms) “you probably shouldn’t eat it,” referring to the lack of oversight of street vendors from health officials.
Next we’ll choose drinking in the same country and it asks if your drink includes ice, yes or no?
If you select yes, the app tells you the beverage is not safe to drink since the ice is probably made from tap water and the tap water might not be safe (at least for you and your digestive system; it’s perfectly safe for locals who are routinely exposed to anything floating around in that tap water). Let’s say you’re not considering an iced drink. The app gives you a list of different kinds of beverages like milk, juice, soda, water, alcohol, or coffee. You simply click on your choice and answer any follow-up questions to get the CDC’s recommendation.
The CDC admits this isn’t foolproof, but should add a layer to your intestinal security so you have a better chance of seeing more of the country you’re visiting than the hotel bathroom.