More research needed into foodborne diseases: WHO
Thu Nov 20, 2008 1:03pm EST
Source of Article: http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE4AJ71420081120?sp=true
By Stephanie Nebehay
More research is needed to determine how much
sickness and death stems from contaminated food, such as the tainted Chinese
milk that caused kidney problems in more than 50,000 children and killed
four, and the
An estimated 30 percent of new infectious diseases originate in bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals and toxins introduced along food production chains, he told an experts' meeting.
"There are some indications that the foodborne disease burden is increasing. But there is not very good data, it is difficult to say exactly what is happening," Schlundt said.
About 2.2 million children die each year from diarrheal illnesses including cholera caused by dirty water, food, and poor sanitation, according to the United Nations agency.
Food products needed to be monitored at every stage of their handling, Schlundt said.
"If you want to deal with food safety you have to go from the 'farm to the fork'. The notion that you can deal with it at the end of the food chain is clearly wrong," he said.
In many countries, regulatory authorities fail to work together, he said.
Julie Ingelfinger, a
For instance, E.coli poisoning can cause hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a cause of kidney failure in children, she said.
"Research into the long-term effects of foodborne disease is increasingly important because it is unquantified and goes on for decades," she said.
David Heymann, WHO assistant director-general for health, security and the environment, told the meeting that rich and poor countries were both vulnerable to foodborne diseases.
"Foodborne diseases occur on every continent and in every country really. We never know where these events will happen," he said.
The recent salmonella outbreak in the
Although salmonella is often linked to poultry,
eggs and dairy products, recent outbreaks have been tied to fresh produce, it
said. Tomatoes were suspected in the
Nancy Donley, president of the
"It's crucial to keep foodborne disease prevention as a top priority in the world," said Donley, whose 6-year-old son Alex died in 1993 from e.coli-contaminated meat. "Behind every statistic is a face, a name, a life."
(Editing by Laura MacInnis and Angus MacSwan)
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