Better food safety through technology

When travelling, much thought goes into what  to eat. Not only do you have to get your party to agree on something, you have to make sure it’s safe. While guidebooks and travel websites often give advice, they might not be detailed enough for your specific situation.

Then what to do? Maybe go get this “Can I Eat This” app thoughtfully created by the CDC. It was reviewed in Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease in August, and came away with a recommendation for all travellers, especially those with young children.

I agree that there is probably a group of people this app would help immensely. It is well received, with a current 4 star rating at iTunes, and 3.5 star rating at google play. The app is organized by simple questions with discrete answers, so you’re basically going down a flowchart. Unfortunately, you would probably get the same information from this infographic, also provided by the CDC. Most of the negative reviews point out the flaws, in that even though it asks you your country, it really doesn’t have country specific advice. It simply breaks down countries into “developed” and “developing”.

It definitely errs on the side of being overly safe rather than possibly making you sick. It even goes so far as to tell you that you probably should not to eat sushi in the US (or Japan!). It is comical that the picture of “uncooked meat” is a few sushi rolls, so maybe there is a hidden message there. There is also a fair amount of humor to be found in their answers that you can find while perusing the app.

So while I think the information is reasonable, and the message is right, I can’t imagine trying to use this on a trip. It’s still too clunky to pull out and use while ordering, even with the simple menus. I do think it is worth a look before travelling to a country simply to get an idea of how you should expect to eat and drink while there. Maybe it will encourage the traveller to look for a more in-depth listing of foods safe to eat.

“Can I Eat This” – Review of a CDC app
http://www.travelmedicinejournal.com/article/S1477-8939(14)00160-4/abstract

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