September 28, 2022

Food Poisoning of the Rich and Famous

Bacteria don’t care if you’re rich. Or if you’re famous. If you eat something that is contaminated with enough bacteria, you’re going to get sick. Just look at the list of famous people stricken with foodborne illness in the past few months:

  • The Cranberries had to cancel a show in Australia in March 2012 because one of the singers contracted food poisoning.
  • Singer Elton John had to cancel concerts in Vegas on February 20, 2012 allegedly because of food poisoning.
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s son Pierre, 28, was hospitalized on January 26, 2012 in the Black Sea city of Odessa with food poisoning.
  • Country singer Kellie Pickler contracted food poisoning in Phoenix, Arizona in January of 2012. She did not require hospitalization.
  • Country star Miranda Lambert developed a severe case of food poisoning in January too, apparently from eating shrimp. She tweeted, “That was a near death experience.”
  • Pop star Joe Jonas was rushed to the emergency room with food poisoning and extreme stomach pain in December 2011.
  • Singer Tyrese was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital in late November 2011 after suffering a severe case of food poisoning.
  • Rapper DMX was hospitalized in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 25, 2012 with food poisoning. He thinks that shrimp were (once again) the problem.
  • In October 2011, rock star Steven Tyler became dehydrated after a foodborne illness, collapsed, and was hospitalized. (Why do so many famous singers contract foodborne illness?)
  • Dancing on Ice host Christine Bleakley contracted food poisoning last week. Shrimp were again blamed for the illness.
  • Michael Winner, a 75-year-old restaurant critic in the UK was hospitalized with E. coli poisoning after eating steak tartare (raw chopped steak) he made himself at home. Three years before that episode, he almost lost a leg to an E. coliinfection caused by raw oysters.
  • On December 5, 2011, the Brazilian soccer legend Socrates died at age 57 after getting food poisoning from infected beef stroganoff. He developed septic shock and was on life support before he died.

So what’s the point of this story? Foodborne illness can strike anyone, at any stage of life, and in any health. While we hear about most food poisoning stories from inexpensive foods purchased in supermarkets or at fast food chains, no one is immune.

Governments all over the world must do more to make our food supply safe, and that includes being more proactive.The Food Safety Modernization Act signed last year by President Obama is a case in point. It has prevented at least one recall that we know of since the FDA was granted powers of detention in the Act.

In December, cold smoked salmon was held after Listeria contamination was suspected at the processing plant. The salmon was destroyed instead of being put into the food supply, causing illness, and triggering a recall.

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