FAO lists ‘top ten’ foodborne parasites

| July 3, 2014

Crytosporidium oocysts (CDC)

Crytosporidium oocysts (CDC)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has released a list of the foodborne parasites that are of most concern worldwide, and is now developing new guidelines designed to help control them.

The pork tapeworm (Taenia solium) heads the list of top ten ranked parasites, which also includes other tapeworms (Echinococcus species) found in fresh produce, along with several protozoan parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba histolytica. The pork worm, Trichinella spiralis is also included and appears at number seven.

The FAO announcement states that, “…parasites affect the health of millions of people every year, infecting muscle tissues and organs, causing epilepsy, anaphylactic shock, amoebic dysentery and other problems. Despite their huge social costs and global impacts, information is generally lacking regarding just where these parasites come from, how they live in the human body, and – most importantly – how they make us sick.”

The list is taken from a joint FAO/WHO report titled Multicriteria-based ranking for risk management of food-borne parasites, which also includes recommendations for control measures that could be used by farmers and consumers to reduce the risk of parasitic infections. The eventual aim is to develop new standards for global food trade that will control the presence of parasites in the food supply chain.

The report can be downloaded from the FAO website here.

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