Eating food tainted with germs, viruses, parasites, or chemicals like heavy metals can result in over 200 ailments. Through pressure on healthcare systems, lost productivity, and detrimental effects on trade and tourism, this expanding public health issue has a significant financial impact. The worldwide burden of disease and mortality is considerably increased by these illnesses. Foodborne illnesses can develop at any point in the chain of food production, delivery, and consumption due to food contamination. They may be the result of hazardous food processing and storage practices, environmental contamination in the form of soil, water, or air pollution, or a combination of these.
Diarrhea to cancer is just a few of the illnesses covered by foodborne diseases. Although they can also cause neurological, gynecological, and immunological symptoms, the majority of their symptoms are gastrointestinal. Diarrhea-causing illnesses are a serious issue in all nations, but they disproportionately affect children under 5 and those in low- and middle-income nations.
Over 420 000 people die each year as a result of consuming tainted food, which affects roughly one in ten people worldwide. Because 125 000 children under the age of five die every year, children are disproportionately affected. Diarrheal diseases are to blame for the majority of these instances. In addition to kidney and liver failure, brain and neurological abnormalities, reactive arthritis, cancer, and mortality are significant side effects of foodborne illnesses. Foodborne illnesses are a major global public health concern that is intimately related to poverty in low- and middle-income nations. The risk of food contamination and the movement of contaminated food across national boundaries increases with increased international trade and longer, more complicated food chains. These problems are exacerbated by urbanization, climate change, migration, and increased international travel, which exposes people to new dangers.
To sustain life and advance good health, it is essential to have access to adequate quantities of safe and nourishing food. More than 200 diseases, ranging from cancer to diarrhea, are brought on by unsafe food that contains dangerous germs, viruses, parasites, or chemical chemicals. Malnutrition and disease spiral out of control as a result, especially impacting the elderly, the sick, young children, and babies. To help assure food safety and better food systems, effective cooperation between governments, producers, and consumers is required.
Infectious or poisonous, foodborne illnesses are typically brought on by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals that enter the body through contaminated food. Chronic illnesses like cancer or acute poisoning can result from chemical pollution. Numerous foodborne illnesses can cause permanent impairment and even death. Here are a few instances of food risks.
- Salmonella, Campylobacter, and enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli are some of the most common foodborne pathogens that affect millions of people annually, sometimes with severe and fatal outcomes. Symptoms can be fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Foods involved in outbreaks of salmonellosis include eggs, poultry, and other products of animal origin. Foodborne cases with Campylobacter are mainly caused by raw milk, raw or undercooked poultry, and drinking water. Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli is associated with unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat, and contaminated fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Listeria infections can lead to miscarriage in pregnant women or the death of newborn babies. Although disease occurrence is relatively low, Listeria’s severe and sometimes fatal health consequences, particularly among infants, children, and the elderly, count them among the most serious foodborne infections. Listeria is found in unpasteurized dairy products and various ready-to-eat foods and can grow at refrigeration temperatures.
- Vibrio cholerae can infect people through contaminated water or food. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, vomiting, and profuse watery diarrhea, which quickly lead to severe dehydration and possibly death. Rice, vegetables, millet gruel, and various types of seafood have been implicated in cholera outbreaks.
Antimicrobials, including antibiotics, are necessary to treat diseases brought on by bacteria, including pathogens that are found in food. The creation and spread of resistant bacteria, which makes the treatment of infectious diseases in both humans and animals ineffective, have been related to their excessive and improper use in veterinary and human medicine.
Some viruses can spread through the eating of food. The symptoms of norovirus, a common source of foodborne infections, include nausea, violent vomiting, watery diarrhea, and stomach pain. The hepatitis A virus can also be transferred through food and can result in chronic liver disease. It usually spreads through contaminated raw produce or raw seafood.
Some parasites, like trematodes found in fish, can only spread through food. Others, including tapeworms like Echinococcus species or Taenia species, can spread to humans through food or close contact with animals. Other parasites that can contaminate fresh vegetables include Ascaris, Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, and Giardia. They enter the food chain by water or soil.
Prions are special in that they are connected to particular types of neurodegenerative diseases. Prions are infectious agents made of protein. BSE, sometimes known as "mad cow disease," is a prion illness that affects cattle and is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans. The most likely method of transmission of the prion agent to humans is through the consumption of meat products containing designated risk material, such as brain tissue.
Most health concerns are naturally occurring toxins and environmental pollutants.
- Naturally occurring toxins include mycotoxins, marine biotoxins, cyanogenic glycosides, and toxins occurring in poisonous mushrooms. Staple foods like corn or cereals can contain high levels of mycotoxins, such as aflatoxin and ochratoxin, produced by mold on grain. Long-term exposure can affect the immune system and normal development, or cause cancer.
- Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are compounds that accumulate in the environment and the human body. Known examples are dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are unwanted by-products of industrial processes and waste incineration. They are found worldwide in the environment and accumulate in animal food chains. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones, and cause cancer.
- Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury cause neurological and kidney damage. Contamination by heavy metals in food occurs mainly through the pollution of water and soil.
- Other chemical hazards in food can include radioactive nucleotides that can be discharged into the environment from industries and civil or military nuclear operations, food allergens, residues of drugs, and other contaminants incorporated in the food during the process.
Food security and sustainable development are bolstered by the reliable food supply, which also promotes international trade and tourism. The number of people who purchase and consume meals made in public settings has increased due to urbanization and changes in consumer behavior. A longer and more complicated global food chain is the outcome of the growing consumer demand for a larger variety of foods that have been sparked by globalization. Food safety is projected to be affected by climate change. Due to these difficulties, food handlers and manufacturers are now more accountable for ensuring food safety. Due to the rapidity and breadth of product distribution, local crises can easily turn into global emergencies.