5 Onboard Food Safety Slip Tales

15 September 2016 By Hillary Hoffower

In a recent Dockwalk.compoll on food safety, respondents reported that nearly eight percent of guestshad an allergic reaction to food on board and nearly eight percent of guestshad food poisoning on board. But crew weren’t immune either — the poll alsorevealed that a little more than 23 percent of respondents had a crewmember onboard who had an allergic reaction to food and a little more than 19 percentwith food poisoning. Yikes! Neither is ever fun, and in some cases, sometimesdangerous. From the slightly humorous to the serious, five crew share whathappened — and how it was handled.

“The guest went out for a delightfuldinner with a few of the core crew. The next morning they were deathly ill. Asa chef, I was concerned and began the process of tracking all food prepared andwho consumed what. Sure enough, the crew that was on board was fine. The littlegirl and primary’s wife were able to get away with some basic cleansing. Theengineer who drank all the guest[’s] remaining bowls [of conch] was flown outand hospitalized for three days. The hospital wanted ten [thousand] [to] dosurgery and that would again [have] been a bad call.” — Executive chef,148-foot motor yacht

“The food poisoning just happened whenthe crew had some bad shrimp. The mate and captain haven't really left theircabins.” — Second stewardess, 40-meter motor yacht

“I am allergic to shellfish. Prawn andlobster salad was served for lunch, along with beef burgers. I had only aburger, but there must have either been cross contamination on the galley side,or crewmembers used the same serving utensils for both meals when plating up. Ibroke out in a massive rash and was not well for three days. On day three wecalled MedAire and I was prescribed high dosage cortisone steroids as emergencytreatment. The crew haven't really taken it that seriously, however.” —Stewardess of 65-meter motor yacht

“Many moons ago I had a captain whodecided he loved German yogurt. He ate so much that he got sick from onlyeating yogurt. The bottom line that is that even good probiotics can be toomuch for a normal system.” — Executive chef on 148-foot motor yacht

“The chef was careless about food prepand serving, especially with regards to allergies. A crewmember had been serveda specially prepared meal for allergy reasons, but the chef before serving hadput the food on the plate with the allergen ‘accidentally.’ She thought theperson wouldn’t have a reaction because the allergen wasn't in the food, butthat wasn't the case. Allergies are a serious ordeal and dealing with areaction while on charter puts a lot of added stress on the whole crew tomanage the situation. The captain had no choice but to let the chef go becauseof her carelessness and couldn't risk another accident.” — Stewardess, 40-metermotor yacht

While eating allergenic or contaminatedfoods can result in something as simple, yet still unpleasant, as a dose ofBenadryl or night in the head, it can also have a more disastrous consequence, likehospitalization. And then there’s the obvious: it can ruin the guest’s trip orput a crewmember out of commission. Bottom line — always make sure food isproperly prepared and cooked and be cognizant of any allergies all on board mayhave. For more on food safety, keep an eye out for the October 2016 issue of Dockwalk, out on September 19.