The Associated Press (AP) reported earlier this week that a cruise ship was delayed from departing as scheduled from New Orleans on February 4 due to an outbreak of a stomach virus. Voyager of the Seas, a 3,100-passenger cruise liner operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises had been ready to set sail on a 7-day excursion when the delay occurred.
While food poisoning was not specifically mentioned, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta sent out a notification on Friday, February 3 that a cruise might be coming into port with a norovirus outbreak. The CDC said little beyond the notification. However, a report from CBS News affiliate WDSU reported February 5 that about 200 passengers aboard the cruise ship had become ill.
Norovirus is thought to be responsible for about half of all foodborne outbreaks in the US. A headline such as "Food Poisoning" on a cruise ship is disconcerting, as such a vessel acts as a closed community, and while there is medical treatment available on board, access to a proper hospital is virtually impossible until the cruise ship pulls into port. While an individual could be transferred to a hospital by helicopter, the foregoing is not an option if an outbreak involves hundreds of people.
Meanwhile, a report from the CDC released January 19 stopped short of naming Yum Brands Inc. Taco Bell in its report on a salmonella outbreak that affected dozens of people in 10 states this past October. However, according to International Business Times News (2/2/12), a document from the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Acute Disease Service referenced Taco Bell.
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In its report, the CDC indicated it could not find a link between the salmonella outbreak and a specific ingredient.
Taco Bell issued a statement echoing the CDC's finding that contamination happened at the supplier level before food was delivered to the affected restaurants. "We take food quality and safety very seriously," the statement said.
Previously, Taco Bell has been linked to two other outbreaks within the past six years. The most recent, in 2010, resulted in 155 people sickened with foodborne illness in 21 states following two outbreaks of rare strains of salmonella.