Improper handling of food can cause the outbreak of disease and it is not only about relatively minor gastrointestinal illnesses like selflimiting diarrhoea.
Small children, expectant mothers, very old people or people whose immune system has been weakened by previous illness are most likely to be in danger as food-borne infection can also be severe, cause lasting damage and even prove fatal under certain circumstances.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s reports on food-borne outbreaks in Europe in 2016 shows that the majority of the 521 strong-evidence outbreaks was caused by the consumption of food in private households (205 outbreaks).
It was followed by outbreaks caused by the consumption of food in restaurants (133) and communal catering facilities, such as canteens in kindergartens and schools, nursing homes and hospitals (87), according to a news release from The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
The BfR is a scientifically independent institution of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Germany that advises the federal government on questions of food, chemical and product safety.
“The risk of food-borne infections can be minimised through consistent compliance with the rules of good kitchen hygiene in both the professional area as well as in private households” the BfR says.
They have underscored the need for the improvement of kitchen hygiene as a matter of “vital importance” to be able to constantly reduce the number of food-borne infections.
A food-borne outbreak means an incidence of two or more human cases of the same disease, or a situation in which the observed number of cases exceeds the expected number and where the cases are linked, or are probably linked, to the same food source.
Improper handling of food can favour the outbreak of disease. According to the outbreak investigations, the major sources are meat and meat products and in particular poultry meat (126 outbreaks), as well as mixed food and buffet meals (85 outbreaks), eggs and egg products (72 outbreaks), fish and fisheries (70 outbreaks) and milk and milk products (45 outbreaks).
Although vegetables, fruits, cereals, sprouted seeds, herbs and spices and their products made a much less significant contribution to the outbreak situation in Europe with a total of 34 outbreaks, they should in no way be ignored.
However, the 14,504 cases of food-borne disease in strong-evidence outbreaks recorded in Europe only partly reflect the food-borne infection situation in Germany and the EU.
Photo credit: chefkeem, pixabay.