In India, bottled water may not offer protection from Delhi belly
Now for some more sour news for every visitor to sprawling India who carefully avoids ice in their drinks, believing that avoiding tap water will help them avoid awkward cases of travelers diarrhea: bottled water may not help prevent Delhi belly.
According to a report in The Times of India, as much as 20 per cent of bottled water tested in New Delhi during 2010-11 and 2011-12 failed quality testing. The results were revealed last week by consumer affairs minister K V Thomas in a written reply to a question posed in Indian parliament, Lok Sabha.
At least 23 of 190 samples in the national capital region failed and the licences of two bottled water companies were revoked.
Bacteria-laden bottled water might sound familiar. In the Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, one of the young characters lands a job at a restaurant, filling water bottles up with tap water, and then using a glue to fix the top it in place and making it seem like a new bottle.
“I have also seen young boys filing up 25 litre Bisleri and Kinley bottles from the roadside taps,” notes one Times of India reader.
So what's a tourist to do?
The Website Matadornetwork.com offers a few pointers that may help avoid a bad stomach bug. Its best advice: avoid fish you don't see caught and cooked; avoid eggs and cheese; and wash your hands regularly.
Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead