Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released additional inspection reports for its Vessel Sanitation Program (“VSP”), which is designed to assist the cruise ship industry in preventing and controlling introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses, i.e. food poisoning, on cruise ships.
The results of one such report from July of this year evaluating the health conditions of the cruise ship Silver Shadow, a Silversea Cruises vessel, were particularly disturbing. CDC inspectors observed and documented numerous health violations, ultimately giving the ship a failing score of eighty-two. According to VSP criteria, anything ship receiving a score under eight-five is considered to have unsatisfactory health conditions.
After boarding the Silver Shadow on June 17, 2013, CDC inspectors conducted a surprise inspection, during which ship employees attempted to conceal various violations, including fifteen food trolleys packed with food and cooking equipment which were hidden in the cabins of galley crew members. The carts were filled with various perishable items that require refrigeration, such as milk, raw meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and cheese.
Other health violations that were discovered included allowing insects to enter the pantry space, improper cooling of foods, accumulation of dust and mildew on refrigerator condensers, and erroneous reporting of cases of acute gastroenteritis cases on the ship.
The surprise inspection was prompted when the CDC became aware of a photo taken by an anonymous crew member that showed food carts being stored or hidden in unrefrigerated and unsanitary conditions. After discovering the various violations, VSP inspectors supervised the removal of all uncanned foods on the ship and then treated it with chlorine concentrate to ensure it would not be used after the inspectors’ departure.
Included in the VSP report was a specific rebuke to Silversea Cruises to stop the use of living quarters for food preparation. Following the issuance of the report, Silversea issued an apology on its facebook page on July 17, 2013, stating that it had taken immediate action to remedy the violations.
As demonstrated by some of the reports prepared by VSP just this year, health violations are common occurrences on many cruise ships. Improper storage, handling, and preparation of food onboard cruise ships is dangerous and can easily result in the spread of gastrointestinal illness. Gastrointestinal illnesses can cause vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, dehydration, and, in very serious cases, death. The improper handling and preparation of food can subject a cruise line to legal liability for negligence.
As this blog has mentioned before, because cruise ship claims are subject to different laws and much shorter statutes of limitations, sometimes as short as one year, they are best handled by experienced cruise ship accident attorneys.
The Florida cruise ship accident attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship negligence for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident or has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.