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Friday, July 5, 2013

Dangers at Sea 2

Buffet Style Food Service

 Without much thought for quality control or consequences I am a big fan of buffet style restaurants.  Were it not for my wife who basically over sees my life for the sake of quality control, I might have already passed away or minimally be somehow incapacitated by now.  My wife is my conscience with regards to avoiding regrets.  She drops little hints and when that don’t work she gives me outright warnings to beware.  For the longest time I wanted to stop and order from a Taco Truck, but my wife wasn’t so sure it was a great idea, since we weren’t familiar with the company or its adherence to strict licensing and health requirements.

Now I hear that some of the worst problems with cruise ships may well be the food section:

  • Unhealthy eating and drinking: Taking precautions is important to stay safe on a cruise — but also to stay healthy. “But health-conscious travelers face an environment filled with excess,” says Ellen Bauersfeld, a registered dietitian in Northridge, Calif.  “24/7 meals, hundreds of items on a buffet line – most of which are high in fat, salt and sugar. Even with good intentions, many fall prey to overeating.”
  • Unhealthy foods trigger addictive changes in brain chemistry, Bauersfeld explains, adding: “Recent research has revealed the dopamine spike that sugar creates in our brains. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that affects our reward/pleasure center a little like a drug. Unfortunately, it only feels good while we’re eating, which is why – as David Kessler, M.D., reported in his book, “The End of Overeating” – we want more and more and more.”  
  • Additionally, Bauersfeld warns, “Mixed specialty drinks are in abundance on cruise ships. Not only are they high in calories, but, after a few drinks, impulse control and making good food choices become more challenging.”

Other than actually dying while on a cruise the next worst thing I can think of is getting sick from eating tainted food:

·       Food poisoning and norovirus: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that food poisoning affects about one in six Americans each year. “Symptoms of food poisoning include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea,” says Dr. Samia Boctor, who has a certification in travelers’ health from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. “If travelers consume contaminated food or water or touch surfaces contaminated by fecal material or vomitus, they can get infections with salmonella, shigella or E. coli. And norovirus needs special mention. These strains cause severe outbreaks that can send travelers to the hospital.”

·       According to the CDC, more than 90 percent of outbreaks of diarrhea on cruise ships are caused by norovirus. In 2012, 16 norovirus outbreaks were reported through the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program.  “Norovirus is easily spread, especially in crowded environments,” Boctor warns, “even by sharing food or eating utensils with someone who is ill.” 

No one is really suggesting that cruise ships are all bad, but some have recently suffered from less than ideal PR.  A few too many incidences of illness, mechanical problems, and power failures speak volumes.  Do your due diligence if you are considering a cruise.  The best is yet to come…

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