Each year, foodborne diseases affect 1 in 10 people worldwide. Most of these cases are mild but some can be severe, especially for pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people with weakened immune systems.
What are foodborne diseases?
Foodborne diseases (colloquially referred to as food poisoning) are a result of ingesting food and water contaminated with toxins and chemicals produced by harmful bacteria and microorganisms. The contamination of food may occur at any stage between food production and consumption. It can also be a result of environmental contamination, such as pollution of water, soil and air.
Parasites – Toxoplasmosis, Pork tapeworm, Echinococcus tapeworms, Chinese liver fluke
Chemicals and toxins – Aflatoxin, cyanide.
Who is more at risk?
Typically those with a weakened or developing immune system. Especially:
Adults aged 65 and above
Children under 5 years
People with existing chronic conditions or undergoing therapy
Pregnant women – susceptible to certain germs such as Listeria.
Preventing foodborne diseases
You can’t completely prevent foodborne disease but you can reduce the risk by adopting the following safety tips:
1. Keep clean
If you don't have access to clean water, boil your water to make it safe to drink
Keep food preparation areas and equipment clean
Practise good personal hygiene
Use clean ingredients or raw materials
2. Separate raw and cooked food
Prepare or store raw food items separately from cooked foods
Use a separate chopping board and utensils for raw and cooked/ready-to-eat food
3. Exercise diligence
Provide serving utensils when sharing food
Check 'Best Before' dates before consuming food
Eat raw food with care
4. Cook thoroughly
Always cook meat and poultry at the right temperature and serve hot
Reheat leftovers above 70°C
5. Keep food at safe temperatures
Keep hot food above 60°C and cold food below 5°C
Refrigerate leftovers quickly, or within 2 hours
Most foodborne illnesses resolve on their own, but you should consult a doctor if you experience:
Blood in your vomit or stools
Diarrhoea for more than 3 days
Extreme stomach cramps
Fever over 38.5°C
Infrequent urination or urine that is darker than usual
Inability to keep liquids down
Rapid heartbeat or low blood pressure
Tingling arms or weakness in muscles
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Estimating the burden of foodborne diseases. Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.who.int/activities/estimating-the-burden-of-foodborne-diseases
Foodborne diseases. Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.who.int/topics/foodborne_diseases/en/
Medical Definition of Foodborne disease. Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=25399
Food Safety – Preventing Foodborne Illness. Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=61936
When should I call my doctor about food poisoning? Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/qa/when-should-i-call-my-doctor-about-food-poisoning
Leftovers and Food Safety. Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/leftovers-and-food-safety/ct_index
WHO’s first ever global estimates of foodborne diseases find children under 5 account for almost one third of deaths. Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/03-12-2015-who-s-first-ever-global-estimates-of-foodborne-diseases-find-children-under-5-account-for-almost-one-third-of-deaths
The burden of foodborne diseases is substantial. Retrieved on 5/2/2020 from https://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/foodborne-diseases/ferginfographics.pdf?ua=1