are the leading causes of illness
and death in less developed countries killing approximately 1.8 million people
annually. In developed countries foodborne pathogens are responsible for
millions of cases of infectious gastrointestinal
diseases each year, costing billions of dollars
in medical care and lost productivity. New foodborne pathogens and foodborne
diseases are likely to emerge driven by factors such as pathogen evolution,
changes in agricultural and food manufacturing practices, and changes to the
human host status. There are growing concerns that terrorists could use
pathogens to contaminate food and water supplies in attempts to incapacitate
thousands of people and disrupt economic growth.
parasites associated with food and water can cause illness in humans. Although parasites
are more commonly found in developing countries, developed countries have also
experienced several foodborne outbreaks. Contaminants may be inadvertently
introduced to the foods by inadequate handling practices, either on the farm or
during processing of foods. Protozoan parasites can be found worldwide, either
infecting wild animals or in water and contaminating crops grown for human
consumption. The disease can be much more severe and prolonged in
produce mycotoxins, which are
secondary metabolites that can cause acute or chronic diseases in humans when ingested from contaminated foods.
Potential diseases include cancers
and tumors in different organs (heart, liver,
kidney, and nerves) gastrointestinal disturbances, alteration of the immune
system, and reproductive problems. Species of Aspergillus,
Fusarium, Penicillium, and Claviceps grow in agricultural
commodities or foods and produce the mycotoxins such as aflatoxins,
deoxynivalenol, ochratoxin A, fumonisins, ergot alkaloids, T-2 toxin, and
zearalenone and other minor mycotoxins such as cyclopiazonic acid and patulin.
Mycotoxins occur mainly in cereal grains (barley, maize, rye, and wheat),
coffee, dairy products, fruits, nuts and spices. Control of mycotoxins in foods
has focused on minimizing mycotoxin production in the field, during storage or
destruction once produced.
Vibrio species are prevalent in marine environments and seven species can cause foodborne infections associated with seafood. Vibrio cholerae produce cholera toxin and are agents of cholera.