After the events of the last few days, I am thinking twice about traveling to Europe and the Middle East in a month to speak at a food safety conference. Not that I am particularly concerned about being a target of foreign terrorism myself, although I do find the process that you have had to endure since 9/11 to board a plane bothersome. The lines, having to take your shoes and jacket off, the one baggie/three liquid ounce rule, do dive me a bit nuts. However, it is watching the pat down of the white haired grandma or the three year old taken out of line that makes me wish I could personally meet Osama in a dark cave – just for a few minutes.

Now today there has been a second scare of a possible bomb on the same Northwest Airlines flight that a passenger tried to set on fire on Christmas day. Today’s scare, however, was the result of a passenger who refused to come out of the bathroom because he was sick with food poisoning (airline or airport food anyone?).

Apparently, the pilot reported a “belligerent and uncooperative” passenger who had spent more than an hour in the bathroom as the flight neared Detroit. Authorities said the passenger was Nigerian petroleum engineer who became unhappy when he was ordered to his seat one hour before landing, as required under new in-flight rules following the attempted Christmas day bombing of the same flight by another Nigerian citizen. Upon landing, officials gave an “all clear” message after interviewing the Nigerian passenger and determining he was, indeed, ill.

This whole event made me start thinking both about terrorism and food poisoning (no, not the bio-terrorism issue again). The horror of 9/11 that started the hassle that has become travel left 2,793 innocent people dead. Since 9/11, if you believe the CDC food poisoning data of 5,000 deaths per year in the United States, over 40,000 people have died because they ate food. Although you cannot directly compare the loss of 2,793 innocents to terrorism on one dark day, the loss of 40,000 since then from eating food should be sobering to us all.

I hope the Nigerian petroleum engineer is feeling better today.  See AP story below: