Food Poisoning Incidence And Importance Biology Essay

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The first signs of food poisoning began to occur when humans settled down in villages living near their waste, sharing their lives with domesticated animals and later using their farms' residues as fertilizers for their land putting microbes in touch with food and humans.

It was not until some time after when they relate sewage to some diseases and the importance to separate it from drinking water while at the same time they began to use preservatives to extend food shelf life.

Affected people usually suffer gastrointestinal symptoms, although others can be possible according to the severity of poisoning or pathogen micro-organism.

According to the FDA (Food Standards Agency):

"Foodborne illness is caused by the consumption of food contaminated with germs or their toxin" (FDA, 2002).

However, this definition can be improved if it is consider other agents being defined as: a disease caused by the consumption of food or water contaminated with germs and/or their toxins, with parasites, viruses or chemicals (Emedicine, 2009).

It was not until 80's when first data emerged estimating 1.4-3.5 million of foodborne poisoning cases in USA. Different studies were carried out in this period with no clear data about the incidence. After a decade, The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) reported new data elevating the number of foodborne illness cases to 6.5-33 millions people that could be affected. Those were the first attempts to know the real incidence of this problem but all estimates were based in theoretical projections (Tayer, D., Food Safety, 1999).

Currently, foodborne illness is considerate one of the most important health concerns due to the high percentage of morbidity and mortality that it produces. Even though it is known the reasons of these diseases and it is available appropriate technology for causing organisms identification, knowing incidence is difficult because each country has its own way of reporting cases and because the majority of cases are never reported to the authorities. Van Logtestijn and Urlings (1995) proposed that the real incidence of food poisoning is probably 50-100 times higher than the number of reported cases.

Problems of food poisoning not only affect human health but also food industry, restaurant and hotel industry and Government are affected by this worrying issue.

A recently study carried out by a FDA economist Dr. Scharff shows the economic repercussion lead to food poisoning in United States where it costs $152 billion annually of which $ 39 are due to treated cases of foodborne illness (Procedure safety project, 2010).

Other costs can be included such as: costs in investigation, industry loss of sales and money due to products recall and companies closure.

2. Main microbiological food poisoning issueS

The main difficulty to control food poisoning is that food products can be contaminated in any moment on their productive life. From farm to home through all steps in the industry outbreaks can appear producing different diseases.

For this reason it is very important to control microbiological quality in raw materials and apply convenient HACCP where it is possible. This is the case of butchers (since 2000 by UE legislation), slaughterhouses (since 2002) and food manufactures with the only exception of farmers which do not follow any HACCP system and only operate through Codes of Practice to try to control Salmonella (Parliamentary, 2003).

2.1. Raw materials

In farms, animals can be infected through contaminated feed, living areas and other infected animals.

Another possible via of contamination is slaughterhouses where micro-organisms reside in the guts of death animals and can contaminate other carcases because of a bad handling during slaughter or just due to a lack of hygiene in equipment or in employees.

2.2. Food manufacturers, service establishments

Even if in the raw materials are free of micro-organisms the final product can be contaminated during its processing. In this stage, applying the correct conditions and an adequate HACCP to avoid possible failures along the chain it allows to avoid possible outbreaks. This is what happens in

But not only during the product processing when problems can appear. An important source of food poisoning outbreaks are catering and service establishments. Moreover, it is thought that around half of food poisoning cases can be attributed to food consumed outside the home.

Explicar cas.

2.3. At home

In most cases

(Parliament Office of Science and Technology, 2003)


Regardless of that, the reality shows a higher number of cases year after year in Europe and United Sates.

Nowadays, it's believe that more than 40 different foodborne pathogens caused some illness in human of which 90% of confirmed cases are due to mainly bacteria while the other cases have been attributed to viruses, parasites and fungi.

Foodborne poisoning occurs either a mishandling during industry process, during storage or during cooking in the kitchen; or due to a contaminated raw material that were not treat properly.

If its consider that many microbiological pathogens have never been able to be controlled totally and others are re-emerging,

Preventives measures taken by industry such as new HACCP plans seem no to do the effect desire as

The fact is that the most common microbiological pathogens are incrementing their incidence becoming an emergent pathogen. This is the case of Salmonella, a well-known bacterium that has increased its number of cases in the last years on many continents due to the consumption of poultry and eggs. Another one, Cholera, has extended its attack area from Asia and Africa to introduce in South America through food in contact with contaminated water. Not less important is E. coli O157:H7 that it has become one of the main causes of hemorrhagic diarrhoea and sporadically kidney failure (WHO, January 2002).

Salmonella spp., Campylobater spp., Listeria spp., norovirus (Calicivirus or Norwalk-like virus), Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium botulinum, Escherichia coli 0157:H7.

In USA on the other hand, the first cause is norovirus (Norwalk), Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., Clostridium spp., Giardia, Campylobacter, streptoccocus, E. coli and toxoplasma gondii.

Figure: CISID, WHO 2010. Countries with the highest number of cases of Campylobacter.

Figure: CISID, WHO 2010. Countries with the highest number of cases of Salmonella.

Figure: CISID, WHO 2010. Countries with the highest number of cases of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (E .coli O157:H7).

Figure: CISID, WHO 2010. Countries with the highest number of cases of Listeria.

listeriosis is still an uncommon

infection and may not immediately come to mind in

the evaluation of the patient with sepsis, meningitis, encephalitis,

or febrile gastroenteritis.

Listeriosis also continues to be a problemin veterinary medicine,

causing epidemic abortion and encephalitis in ruminants producing encephalitis


ability of this psychrotropic organism to proliferate at refrigerator

temperatures provides a unique advantage

4. Future trends in foodborne illness

Nowadays, different studies are being carried out to discover how pathogen microorganisms evolve and change to try to prevent future outbreaks.

The fact is that the new lifestyles in develop countries where people do not have time to cook it allowed industry to introduce new products in the market most of them ready-to-eat products which implies in many cases new changes in the process of obtaining these products or addition of preservatives to extend the shelf-life.

These changes involve the appearance of new conditions to microbiological growth that should be linked with review HACCP plans to ensure that no microbiological problems will be found. However, is no less important the quality of raw materials where husbandry practices and the way animals are feed take an important relevance. Exemple?

Explicar alters factors: canvi climatic….

All this plus the fact that microorganisms evolve as shown data provided by CISID

In the future we may find that many organisms may be resistant to antimicrobials, chemical and physical treatment of industrial processes as well as preservatives. This is all due to mutations or where there are life cycles of gene transfer processes.

High furnishing of antibiotics to animal use in hospitals or the actual consumption, are interpreted as the cause of this resistance.

The result is a decrease of treatments available to fight infections such as bacterial.

But a more au problem lies in the possibility that bacteria present in food animals develop resistance to antibiotics similar clinical.

If Salmonella is currently one of the most important bacteria in the future it is likely to remain so due to finding some resistance from the species S. typhimurium to more than one antibiotic and that is emerged as a major cause of Salmonellosis in some countries.

It will therefore be important to avoid the spread of resistant organisms in the food chain. To do this, it must be important to change the practices of application of antibiotics in animal alimnetación so far with therapeutic applications.

Changing social patterns. The moves towards

shopping less frequently and thus storing food for

longer; the increasing use of pre-prepared dishes,

which are not always stored or reheated appropriately;

the trend towards eating out more often; and the

increase in international travel.

• Emergence of new diseases. The first cases of E.coli

O157 in England and Wales were reported in 1982.

• Increasingly globalised food market. The variation in

standards of food safety between countries could allow

micro-organisms to spread quickly across the globe.