Food Safety on Cruises is Often Overlooked

If you are a passenger on a cruise, you may be aware of a number of potential hazards (especially if you are a regular reader of this blog). You may be aware of slippery floors, excursion accidents, mechanical failures, and a number of other possibilities. But one thing we don’t give much thought to is food safety. How safe is the food that cruises are serving?

Report Looks at Cruise Food Safety

ProPublica has looked into this issue in a fascinating, interactive page that allows viewers to look at safety from each aspect of a cruise ship, from the kitchens to the pools to everything in-between. The site also allows you to search for the safety record for a particular cruise ship, although bear in mind there is no obligatory safety reporting required of cruise ships, so the database may not be completely reliable.

In many ways, food and kitchen safety on a cruise is no different than that required of land-based restaurants. Among some of the problems found in cruise kitchens and food preparation areas are:

  • Dish trolleys: Improper storage of food on dish trolleys, or dish trolleys that were not clean, or soiled with grease or grime
  • Sick employees: We already know how contagious a viral outbreak can be on a ship when a passenger is sick. But when the crew gets sick and that crew is handling your food, it can make for dangerous conditions. Cruise workers are often encouraged to work through sickness, may also fear adverse employment decisions in the event they take sick days, or may come from cultures that don’t encourage taking sick days off from work.
  • Pots and Pans: Soiled or unclean pots and pans can make for an environment that can contaminate food.
  • Other passengers: It sounds gross to talk about, but it is a valid health issue—passengers sneezing on buffet tables or handling items with unclean hands can lead to contamination that makes its way to the food supply.

Statistics are Unreliable

There are statistics available to determine norovirus outbreaks on ships, but that number can be deceptive because a norovirus may be different than food borne illness (i.e., “food poisoning”). In fact, in many instances, illness on cruise ships can be the result of e.coli, a foodborne illness.

The CDC also has specific requirements for when an outbreak qualifies as a reportable outbreak. For example, a certain set of symptoms must be met by a passenger before that passenger’s illness is reported to the CDC as an outbreak. And even ships that have very good ratings or safety records can be hit with viral outbreaks.

If you are injured or get sick while a passenger on a cruise ship, you have rights. Don’t be a victim. Speak to a maritime attorney about making a claim or lawsuit for your injuries. Talk to the Florida cruise ship attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today for a free consultation about your cruise injury case.

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