Blowing (food) chunks on vacation

Amy, Sorenne and I are hanging out in Venice, Florida, and I do most of the cooking. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies from the neighborly Publix supermarket, and I even bought a digital, tip-sensitive meat thermometer from Target because I just feel naked cooking without one.

Others aren’t so fortunate, I guess.

A group called HolidayTravelWatch, somewhere in the European Union, has just published its top-20 appalling holiday complaints and problems. Included in this year’s list:

1. Family holiday to Egypt where a child was struck down by severe food poisoning, hospitalization and subsequent scalding in the hotel restaurant.

2. Family holiday to Turkey found that most of their group were ill, they were diagnosed as suffering with Salmonella and Cryptosporidium.

12. One family reported that they had returned from Turkey and their daughter had been diagnosed with Salmonella – they report that many people were ill at the hotel.

15. Holidaymakers to one hotel in Egypt reported sewage smells on the complex, gardens irrigated by stagnant water, food lukewarm, drinks served through a hatch and not via sealed bottles – they suffered severe gastric illness which still continues.

17. One family to Egypt suffered with food undercooked, poor chef hygiene practices (one chef was seen to handle bloody meat then touch other food), flies on the food in the pool bar, sewage smells in bathroom, cracks on the balcony and they are suspected as suffering with Cryptosporidium.

20, One couple’s trip to Egypt was marred by building work, diarrhoea on the public toilet walls, diarrhoea in the restaurant. They both suffered severe illness and weight loss – they are still ill.

Eating beach sand can be messy – at both ends

When it gets hot in Kansas, we go to Florida.

We’re leaving in a week, with a little work along the way before we settle into our rental on sexy Venice Beach, Florida. It’s the antithesis of places like South Beach, Miami, where celebrities flock and appearances rule. Venice – founded as a retirement community by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in the 1920s – is about as quiet as it gets.

With good beaches.

This year we’ll have 7-month-old Sorenne, and she’s starting to crawl (see below). If she can do this on hardwood, sand will be a breeze.

So we have to aware of sand in the mouth.

Besides the yuck factor, researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that digging in sand on beaches near water with high levels of fecal bacteria could be a risk factor for developing the drips.

For the study, reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers got contact information for more than 25,000 people visiting seven beaches within seven miles of sewage treatment plants.

About 10 days later, the researchers called and asked how they had spent their day at the beach and whether they had experienced problems like vomiting or diarrhea since then.

Those who dug in the sand, the study found, were significantly more likely to report having been sick — with those who had allowed themselves to be buried in the sand most affected. Children seemed to be at extra risk.

The best advice: wash your damn hands, especially before eating.

This isn’t the first time sand has been implicated in human illness.

In May, 2008, children’s playgrounds on Sydney’s northern beaches were closed after a rare form of salmonella normally linked to tropical fish made dozens of toddlers seriously ill.