Foodborne, waterborne diarrhoeal diseases kill 2.2m people annually

KARACHI: Foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases kill an estimated 2.2 million people annually across the world, most of whom are children. Diarrhoea is the acute, most common symptom of foodborne illness, but other serious consequences include kidney and liver failure, brain and neural disorders, reactive arthritis, cancer and death.

According to WHO, foodborne diseases outbreaks have devastating health and economic consequences in both developed and developing countries. WHO identified the need to estimate the full extent of the disease burden associated with unsafe food. Food hygiene are the conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety of food from production to consumption. Food can become contaminated at any point during slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, transportation and preparation. Lack of adequate food hygiene can lead to foodborne diseases and death of the consumer.

Foodborne diseases encompass a wide spectrum of illnesses and are a growing public health problem worldwide. They are the result of ingestion of foodstuffs contaminated with microorganisms or chemicals. The contamination of food may occur at any stage in the process from food production to consumption (“farm to fork”) and can result from environmental contamination, including pollution of water, soil or air.

The most common clinical presentation of foodborne disease takes the form of gastrointestinal symptoms; however, such diseases can also have neurological, gynaecological, immunological and other symptoms. Multiorgan failure and even cancer may result from the ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs, thus representing a considerable burden of disability as well as mortality.

Food and food products contaminated with foodborne pathogens often look and smell the same as safe food. Therefore, visual inspection is not enough to ensure safe food and ingredients. Laboratory-based surveillance of animals, food and humans is important, both to detect and prevent foodborne pathogens from entering or spreading through the food chain, as well as to identify foodborne disease outbreaks so that appropriate and evidence-based control measures can be taken.

Many countries still lack the necessary surveillance capacity for outbreak detection and response. In addition, foodborne disease outbreaks go undetected, in part due to lack of communication between the human, veterinary, and food sectors.

Due to the globalization of animal and food trade, national food safety issues can have global implications. It is, therefore, imperative that countries are able to detect and deal with clusters of foodborne pathogens and disease.

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