Author(s): Kferstein F, Abdussalam M
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Abstract The global importance of food safety is not fully appreciated by many public health authorities despite a constant increase in the prevalence of foodborne illness. Numerous devastating outbreaks of salmonellosis, cholera, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli infections, hepatitis A and other diseases have occurred in both industrialized and developing countries. In addition, many of the re-emerging or newly recognized pathogens are foodborne or have the potential of being transmitted by food and/or drinking water. More foodborne pathogens can be expected because of changing production methods, processes, practices and habits. During the early 21st century, foodborne diseases can be expected to increase, especially in developing countries, in part because of environmental and demographic changes. These vary from climatic changes, changes in microbial and other ecological systems, to decreasing freshwater supplies. However, an even greater challenge to food safety will come from changes resulting directly in degradation of sanitation and the immediate human environment. These include the increased age of human populations, unplanned urbanization and migration and mass production of food due to population growth and changed food habits. Mass tourism and the huge international trade in food and feed is causing food and feedborne pathogens to spread transnationally. As new toxic agents are identified and new toxic effects recognized, the health and trade consequences of toxic chemicals in food will also have global implications. Meeting the huge challenge of food safety in the 21st century will require the application of new methods to identify, monitor and assess foodborne hazards. Both traditional and new technologies for assuring food safety should be improved and fully exploited. This needs to be done through legislative measures where suitable, but with much greater reliance on voluntary compliance and education of consumers and professional food handlers. This will be an important task for the primary health care system aiming at "health for all".
This article was published in Bull World Health Organ
and referenced in Journal of Bacteriology & Parasitology