November 12, 2009
Numbers Say Food-Born Illness A Bigger Issue
Millions of people die every year from both bugs and toxins that they consume, says a new World Health Organization survey that outlines how food-borne diseases are far worse than the U.N. agency thought.
The study cites hazardous food causes about 2 million deaths annually in Southeast Asia and Africa, which is three times the amount that WHO had originally estimated.
"It is a picture that we have never had before," WHO Food Safety Director Jorgen Schlundt told Reuters. "We now have documentation of a significant burden outside the less than five groups, which is major new information."
Ailments connected to unhygienic food and water has been a gigantic hazard to children. However, the Danish veterinarian and microbiologist feels that the risks to adults had been hugely misjudged.
Both the children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to brutal sickness from food- and water-borne pathogens like salmonella, listeria, E. coli, Hepatitis A and cholera.
Food safety experts are now looking to gauge these kinds of illnesses in people in the Arab world, Latin America and Asia. Already, Schlundt said, health officials understand the requirement of facing these kinds of contamination in their business rules and trade principles.
"Literally millions are dying every year and we know that a lot of these could be prevented," Schlundt told Reuters. "There is a realization that instead of doing what we did in the past, in the future we should really focus on where the problems are."
Several of the contaminants that have been in the media in the US, like salmonella and E. coli, run rampant in underdeveloped countries but are not observed as cautiously, Schlundt notes.
Health authorities in these countries have more opportunities to record food safety hazards thanks to tests that can quickly identify illness connected to foods like lettuce, peppers, spinach and beef.
Still, "there are certain pathogens that have increased over the last 20 or 30 years. Some problems clearly have moved and become bigger because of the ways that we produce," he said.
Another important division of the food-borne disease brawl is taking safety measures in the way they arrange foods, and guaranteeing patients and health workers take the illnesses seriously.
"Many of the deaths that we see in developing countries, if they had been treated at the right time, they would not have died," Schlundt said.
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