Watch out for foodborne illnesses Watch out for foodborne illnesses

Following some simple tips can help reduce the risk of eating contaminated foods that can be harmful to your health.

The following figure is a wake-up call: unsanitary foods that contain bacteria, viruses, parasites or harmful chemicals can cause more than 200 diseases. This figure comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), as it explains that “Foodborne diseases encompass a wide spectrum of illnesses and are a growing public health problem worldwide.”

It is important to be careful about these illnesses because food can become contaminated at any stage, from production to consumption, what WHO calls “from farm to fork.” Raw meat, fruits and vegetables that have not been handled properly and certain raw seafoods are some examples of ingredients that can often become contaminated.

The onset of gastrointestinal symptoms is the most common clinical manifestation of a foodborne disease; however, when they become serious, they can trigger neurological, gynecological and immunological symptoms.

In their manual on the prevention and notification of foodborne diseases, the Ministry of Education of Colombia encourages handling foods correctly, especially those considered to pose a greater threat. It also offers the following recommendations: using proper food hygiene practices, cooking temperatures, and storage and refrigeration conditions; always purchasing food from places that are trustworthy; checking expiration dates; protecting animal products from insects and rodents; and using water that is safe to drink.

Related article: Foodborne illnesses: Common and treatable