Food Hygiene

Food safety: the fourth pillar in the strategy to prevent infant diarrhoe

Kaferstein DF (2003) Food safety: the fourth pillar in the strategy to prevent infant diarrhoea. Bulletin of the World Health Organization; 81(11): 842-843.

Public health historians will hopefully clarify one day why the
public health community has taken so long to recognize the link
between contaminated food and diarrhoea — particularly infant
diarrhoea — and why it has taken so long to integrate food
safety into prevention strategies.
Over two decades ago, WHO recognized that infant
diarrhoea was a critical public health problem (Snyder JD,
Merson HMH.  Bulletin of the World Health Organization
1982;60:605-13) and that the epidemiological link between
contaminated food and the resulting diarrhoea had been
established and confirmed (The role of food safety in health
development. Report of a FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food
Safety. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1984 (WHO
Technical Report Series, No. 705); Motarjemi Y et al.
Contaminated weaning food — a major risk factor in the cause
of diarrhoea and associated malnutrition. Bulletin of the World
Health Organization 1993;71:79-82). The microbiological
evidence was even more striking: diarrhoea is caused by pathogens
that enter the body through the mouth, mainly via food or
drinking-water. Food, however, contains substances that are not
only nutritious for people but that also support the growth of
bacterial pathogens. Herein lies the crucial difference between
food and water in terms of what happens to bacteria. In water,
bacterial pathogens may survive for some time but they will not
increase in number. However, in many foods, and most
importantly in complementary (weaning) foods, the growth of
pathogens is well documented. Thus, even if food contained an
originally insignificant bacterial contamination, the pathogens
may multiply within a few hours to reach the minimum infective
dose that is required to cause disease, particularly if food is stored
at ambient temperature (between 20 °C and 40 °C) — a situation
frequently observed in developing countries. A substantial
number of cases of acute diarrhoea is caused by microbiologically
contaminated food, and the resulting malabsorption, leading to
a reduced nutritional status of the patients, is especially serious
for malnourished people.

Written by geraldmoy

April 18, 2011 at 8:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized