Wednesday, July 9, 2014

FAO Releases Top Ten Parasite List

The FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) released a "Top Ten" list identifying the food-borne parasites of greatest global concern.  Fortunately, there are only four that have any importance in the US and Canada.  Most cases of parasitic infection have been isolated cases.  The fout include:
  • Toxoplasma
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Cyclospora
  • Giardia

The risk, although small, increases with consumption of produce from developing countries.  Such as the case with Cyclospora in raspberries, lettuce, and basil.  Washing in potable water is a common practice that helps to mitigate this risk.

Contaminated water and produce irrigated with contaminated water has been an issue that has contributed to Cryptosporidium and Giardia outbreaks.

According to the report "Taxoplasmosis is a recognized concern of physicians for women during pregnancy, but emphasis is placed on potential contamination from cats rather than from foodborne infection".

Trichinellosis cases are still seen, but primarily limited to undercooked game meat (bear, wild boar, and marine mammals).  Taenia, primarily Taenia solium (tapeworm associated with undercooked pork) have been seen in a few cases, primarily associated with people who have immigrated from Central and South America.

Undercooked seafood have been a source of a number of parasites (Anisakis ssp, Dipyllobothium, Echinostomidae, Nonophyetes, Opisthorchis, Clonorchis, Paragoniumus, Pseudoterranova), but there have been very few cases of each over the last 30 or 40 years.

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