You’ve been warned before; be careful of the water you drink and the food you order in foreign countries to avoid food-borne illness. Nothing ruins a vacation quite like spending your days hunched over the toilet or curled up in bed.
Unfortunately, contaminated foods can cause more than just a heavy bout of food poisoning. Consuming the following foods and drinks have had dangerous and potentially fatal consequences.
Meth-laced 7Up in Mexico
Travelers to Mexico were recently warned of 7Up soda that contained methamphetamine. The soda left seven ill and killed one person, according to the Attorney General of Justice of the State of Baja California. Side effects can include nausea or vomiting, an irregular heart beat, and difficulty breathing.
Banner Health warns people to remain observant when traveling. “It is important to check that the seal for any food and drink consumed is still intact and show no signs of tampering,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director. “If you notice any difference in color, taste or smell, throw it out.”
Durian candy poisoning in the Philippines
CNN Philippines reported that nearly 2,000 people were affected by the durian candy poisoning in the Caraga region of the Philippines. The region was put under heightened alert, in reaction to a report that 1,665 individuals were poisoned from the candies. The victims reportedly felt “weak and nauseous,” and many were hospitalized.
Tainted peanut butter in the U.S.
Did you ever think contaminated peanut butter could kill nine people and leave over 700 ill? It did. Stewart Parnell, former CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowingly selling the salmonella-contaminated condiment. Parnell was the first corporate executive ever convicted of federal felony charges related to food poisoning, according to CNN.
Tainted alcohol in Mexico
Wisconsin native Abbey Connor, 20, tragically died of an undetermined alcohol incident at an all-inclusive Mexican resort. She and her brother, Austin, 22, were found face down in the resort pool and were rushed to the hospital where Abbey was declared brain dead.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel conducted an investigation, and while Abbey and Austin had been drinking, they likely hadn’t consumed enough alcohol to warrant the injuries their bodies sustained. The incident elicited travel warnings after others came forward and reported suspicious “blackouts” while vacationing in Mexico.
Egg contamination in the EU
A recent contamination scandal affected 15 EU states as well as Switzerland and Hong Kong. Millions of eggs and egg-based products were pulled from supermarket shelves after tests revealed a high level of fipronil — an insecticide used to kill mites. By the end of the investigation, the The Food Standards Agency claimed 700,000 eggs had been contaminated.
“The insecticide can damage people’s kidneys, liver and thyroid glands if eaten in large quantities. However, food standards agencies are playing down the risks for anyone who has already eaten the tainted eggs,” BBC News reported.
Chocolate bar recall in Germany and the Netherlands
U.S. chocolate maker Mars recalled candy bars and other items in 55 countries for potential plastic contamination. A woman reported finding a small piece of red plastic in a Snickers bar manufactured in the Netherlands. Mars had to recall some notably popular candy brands including Snickers, Milky Way, and Mars bars.
The U.S. market was minimally affected. The company released a statement, saying, “As a precaution, the product recall is being implemented in all markets served by our Netherlands facility. Only certain products labeled on pack as ‘Mars Netherlands’ are affected by this recall.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focus on travelers’ health
To ensure your safety, the CDC offers advice on food and water safety to help travelers.
They advise avoiding raw meats/fish and street food and consuming only bottled or canned drinks. The CDC now offers a mobile app, Can I Eat This? which prompts travelers to select their destination country and answer a few simple questions.