Ch.9 - FOOD-283 9 Impact Applications Food-Bourne Illness...

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FOOD-283 9. Impact & Applications: Food-Bourne Illness and Control of Bacteria in the Food Industry The fact that a few Bacteria can cause disease is well-known. Perhaps what is not so well known is that there are no known cases of an archaeon causing an illness in humans (or any organism for that matter). This means as far as food bourne illness is concerned, most of the information in this chapter applies only to Bacteria. 9.1 Sources of Microorganisms in Food and Water Practically all food be it, fruit, vegetable, meat or dairy harbours a variety of microorganisms. This is not surprising when one considers that microbes are ubiquitous in the biosphere being especially abundant in soil and water. Microbes also populate the surfaces of animals (including humans) and their digestive systems. As a result of this pervasive presence in the environment, a variety of microbes find their way into foods during harvest, slaughter, handling and packaging. The microbes that are the most suited to the food environment reproduce there. Others, even though they cannot grow, survive for a time while still others become dormant. The water bodies which serve as sources of drinking water also contain a diverse array of microorganisms. Beyond the naturally occurring ones, surface waters in settled areas receive inputs of microbes from agricultural run-off, storm drains and sewage discharge. 9.2 Extent of Food (and Water)-Bourne Illness (Disease) in Canada Estimates vary but every year there are certainly millions of cases of food (and water)-bourne illnesses in Canada resulting in thousands of hospitalizations, hundreds of deaths and an estimated cost in the billions. Of those cases with an identified causal agent, most are bacterial in nature with the remainder due to protozoa. This being said, the causes of about half of food-borne illnesses are never identified. These cases are thought due to viruses that we don’t yet have the tools to detect. Luckily these viral illnesses are not usually fatal. Another thing to keep in mind is that the food production chain has become more complex, providing greater opportunities for contamination with disease-causing microbes. And with food being produced and processed in ever-increasing volumes, there is a greater chance of food-borne microbes being spread to a large number of people. Indeed, many outbreaks of food (and water)-borne diseases that were once contained within a small community may now take on global dimensions.
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