Posted by: mkirschmd | May 11, 2009

The FDA and Food-borne Illness: A Message for Travelers

Moctezuma_Mendoza[1]This has been a good year for germs in America.   Why does it seem that every other month we have another disease outbreak or product recall?  Food safety is not just a health issue; it is a political matter that is being studied by the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill.  Earlier this year, a peanut plant in Georgia was found to be the source of a Salmonella outbreak that reached 46 states.   Nearly 4000 related products were recalled.  This is nuts!

 The FDA, our Federal Government’s vanguard protecting us from food contamination and food safety violations, isn’t doing the job.  It just doesn’t have the resources or the manpower.  One of their tasks is to audit inspections of food producing facilities.  Last year, 5 states received no FDA audits at all.  With respect to the Georgia plant, the state government inspections did not uncover any serious deficiencies, a finding that unfortunately proved to be dead wrong.

Food and beverage safety is much more of a threat to international travelers.  In many countries, particularly in the developing world, there are no adequate safeguards or inspection systems to protect citizens from food-borne illness.  Salmonella, shigella, campylobacter and E. coli can be inadvertently ingested in restaurants, sidewalk kiosks, open buffets or tap water.   How common is traveler’s diarrhea, affectionately known as Montezuma’s revenge?  Ten million travelers enjoy the experience every year.   Have you taken precautions before your trip to avoid being included on this list?  

Most international travelers never see a physician before departure to discuss necessary immunizations and other important safety advice.  Don’t be one of them. After your itinerary has been arranged, visit a travel clinic so that your vacation or business trip won’t become a medical adventure.

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