200947 Health hazard from beverage cans

06 Aug 2009 MARS

Health hazard from beverage cans
MARS Report 200947

How appealing is a cold drink in a chilled can, especially after a long, hard shift or watch? Most seafarers would scarcely waste time to bother with any niceties when faced with such temptation; they would simply pop the can open, put it to their mouths and pour the contents 'down the hatch' without the fluid even touching the sides of the throat.

Recent media reports, based on observations made inside some storage warehouses, have alleged widespread infestation and consequent contamination of stored cartons of canned beverages and foodstuffs. Rodents, in particular, have deposited urine and faeces atop cartons of cans, and there is great risk of contracting life-threatening diseases like leptospirosis and typhoid as a result. If not pests, then pesticides used within the storage warehouses may also be present on the can's surfaces, and the unsuspecting consumer could ingest powerful toxins.

Suggested precautions for seafarers
Always unpack cartons containing canned beverages and foodstuffs, carefully rinse each can or container under running clean water (hot water is preferable) and store these in a protected, proven pest-free space until consumed.
Never drink or consume food straight from the can, even if the carton and can surfaces appear clean and bright. Always pour the beverage into a clean and clear glass, and consume only after confirming product quality by using sight, smell and taste. Exercise similar caution with canned foodstuffs.
Destroy/or properly dispose of contents of cans that appear to have been damaged, punctured or even soiled.
Question suppliers about the quality of the storage facilities they use.