Man tries to smuggle live baby bear, panthers, leopards and monkeys in suitcase at Thailand airport

Students travelling home to live in your parent’s basement after graduation today – don’t try this.

Noor Mahmoodr, a 36-year-old citizen of the United Arab Emirates, was detained soon after midnight by undercover officers at a Bangkok airport with a baby bear, a pair of panthers, two leopards and some monkeys – all aged under two months – in his cases.

The man, who was trying to get the creatures onto a first-class flight to Dubai from Suvarnabhumi airport, was charged with smuggling endangered species out of Thailand, according to Colonel Kiattipong Khawsamang of the Nature Crime Police.

He said one of the bags had been abandoned in an airport lounge because the animals were being too noisy.

The animals were taken into the care of local veterinarians.

NZ food poisoning survivor to farewell friend

Emma Langlands will farewell Sarah Carter who died while they and a third friend, Amanda Eliason, were holidaying in Chiang Mai.

The university friends, all aged 23, suffered food poisoning after eating from a market near their hotel.

Just two days later – on Waitangi Day – Ms Carter was dead.

Ms Langlands, who was the least affected of the group, is now back home in Hamilton.

Her father, Richard Langlands, yesterday told the Herald that his daughter would pay her respects at Ms Carter’s funeral.

Ms Eliason, however, will not be able to attend. She is still in Thailand and is not yet well enough to fly.

The three women, who travelled to Thailand for a short holiday, were admitted to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital last week.

It was first reported that they had become sick after eating toxic seaweed but their families later said they had ordered curry.

Ms Carter and Ms Eliason required emergency heart procedures but Ms Carter lost her battle.

A spokesman from the Chiang Mai public health office told the Herald that results sent to a laboratory for testing were not expected for another two weeks.

Seaweed delicacy in Thailand kills 23-year-old NZ woman, two others in hospital

The New Zealand Herald is reporting that a dream Overseas Experience has turned to tragedy for three young New Zealand women after food poisoning killed one and left the other two in hospital.

Sarah Carter, 23, died on Sunday, reportedly after eating a seaweed delicacy at a market in Chiang Mai, Thailand – just hours before her mother could get to her bedside.

Her friends Amanda Eliason and Emma Langlands, both 23, also suffered food poisoning and were last night still in Chiang Mai Ram Hospital.

Amanda remained in the intensive care unit while Emma was yesterday moved into her own room and was now eating.

"We’ve just been on a rollercoaster from hell," Emma’s father, Richard, said last night. "Three of them went over, but one’s not coming back. It’s just horrific. These girls are so beautiful, professional and sensible. It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy.

"I just can’t understand how this happened … they’re all such amazing, hugely intelligent girls."

The three friends – who were on their OE after finishing their studies at Wellington’s Victoria University – were rushed to hospital last Friday when they became ill after eating what is thought to have been toxic seaweed.

Two days later, Sarah was dead.

Yesterday her father, Richard Carter of Auckland, told a news website that his daughter had "touched the hearts of everyone she knew."

* There are several types of edible seaweed used in many countries.
* The high iodine content can produce iodine toxicity if large amounts are consumed.
* Rotting seaweed is also a potent source of hydrogen sulfide, a highly toxic gas which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but is rarely fatal.
* Most edible seaweed is marine algae – most freshwater algae is toxic.While marine algae is not generally toxic, some do contain acids that irritate the digestion canal, while others can have a laxative effect.
* Is a staple food in most parts of Asia and is used in soups, salads and as a side dish.
* Recognised in many Western countries, as being used in sushi and in spirulina.

Bangkok street fruit often contaminated

The Associated Press reports that a survey of fruit available via ubiquitous street carts in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, found unsafe levels of bacteria and chemicals that help keep it looking fresh in the city’s tropical heat.

The Prime Minister’s Office launched a one-month campaign Monday to encourage fruit vendors and their suppliers to improve hygiene and provide consumers with safe, clean fruit. Authorities warned another survey will be taken at the end of the month after which vendors selling contaminated fruit will face up to two years in prison and fines of 20,000 baht ($650).

The study conducted throughout August by Bangkok City Hall, the Thai Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies sampled fruit from 38 vendors across the capital, where baggies packed with watermelon or pineapple sell for 10 baht (30 cents) and pricier guava costs 25 baht (80 cents).

Results of the study found that 67 percent of 153 samples of fresh fruit contained unsafe amounts of coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria is common in digestive tracts and does not necessarily cause sickness, but its presence may indicate fecal matter, E. coli and other disease-causing organisms.

Famous Fox bitten by rabid cat

My friend and hockey playing rival, Scott Weese (I played goalie, he could score) has gotten the hang of combining pop culture with the topics of interest when writes in his Worms & Germs Blog about former British pop star and I’m a Celebrity-Get Me Out of Here reality TV character Samantha Fox, who was bitten by a rabid cat while vacationing in Thailand. Fox was feeding stray cats near a restaurant and was attacked.

"The treatment for rabies makes you feel sick and horrible, though, really fluey and shaky." Usually, the post-exposure treatment isn’t too bad (I can speak from experience here) and current rabies vaccines tend to have a much lower rate of side effects than older vaccines. Fear of adverse effects shouldn’t be a deterrent to proper treatment of this almost invariably fatal disease.

Bad canned fish donated to Thailand’s flood victims

Five bridges, six schools, 78 roads, and 2,225 rai (880 acres) of farmland are under water in Thailand’s deep South.

Victims of the flooding have been given relief kits that included cans of fish that TOC News described as “rotten.”

Several residents dumped the cans in front of their City Hall in protest.

Thailand’s The Nation reported hundreds of flood victims became sick from apparent food poisoning linked to the donated fish.

The Nation explains that Thailand’s FDA “is studying the legal process on whether to charge the company for violating the law by illegally producing canned fish and other canned food items after its factory was closed by the local public health office due to a substandard production process and producing poor quality products.”

America’s Good Samaritan law protects people that donate food to those in the event it accidentally makes someone sick.

Of course, the law stipulates that the donor cannot consciously and voluntarily offer any food that is likely to be harmful to the health and well-being of another person.”

The manufacturer of the assumedly improperly canned fish “could face a fine of up to Bt30,000 and see bosses jailed for up to three years due to the substandard factory. It could also face a fine of Bt50,000 to Bt100,000, plus jail terms of six months to 10 years for the firm’s bosses for fraudulent food production or fake labeling.”

Nice try, guys. Flood victims deserve safe food, too.

Former Tasting and Complaining host forced to resign as Thai PM

Thailand’s prime minister was forced out of office Tuesday along with his Cabinet after a court ruled that he had broken a conflict-of-interest law by hosting TV cooking shows.

There sure is a lot of crap on TV cooking shows. We covered it in our 2004 paper here.

Others have apparently borrowed our idea. Imitation is a form of flattery, I guess. Or it’s just posing.

Samak Sundaravej’s 73, a self-proclaimed foodie, hosted a popular television cooking show — "Tasting and Complaining" — for seven years before becoming prime minister. But he also made several appearances after taking office, breaking a constitutional prohibition on private employment while in office.

Food safety in Thailand

On Thursday I spent a couple of hours with some visiting food safety types from Thailand, sharing our experiences with on-farm food safety and fresh produce.

Near the end of the talk, I put up a sample of a daily FSnet mailing for additional information. For policy analyst Thepchoo Sripoti, left, with Thailand’s National Food Institute, light bulbs went off. He said,

“I am a big fan of your FSNET for almost 7 years. It gives me new information on food safety around the world. Wish you have a great success all the way.”

Thanks for the kind words and the visit.