July 14, 2024

UN Makes a Top 10 List of Parasites That Cause Food Poisoning

Ever wondered which foodborne parasites cause the most illness? The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have recently compiled a Top 10 list so public health efforts can be focussed on the bugs with the greatest impact.

Salmon TapewormLike foodborne bacteria, foodbrone parasites affect the health of millions of people every year. Health effects include damage muscles and organs, epilepsy, anaphylactic shock and dysentery.  Some parasites can live on in our bodies for decades.

Parasites can be found in meat, poultry and produce. Last year, a cyclospora outbreak linked to fresh. imported produce sickened 631 people in the U.S. But cyclospora didn’t make the Top 10 list. These bugs did. Number 1, Taenia solium, or pork tapeworm, contracted by eating undercooked contaminated pork. Number 2, Echinococcus granulosus, or hydatid worm or dog tapeworm, contracted by eating contaminated fresh produce. Number 3, Echinococcus multilocularis, is a type of tapeworm found in fresh produce. Number 4, toxoplasma gondii, is a protozoa found in pork, beef, and game meat. Number 5, cryptosporidium spp., is a protozoa found in fresh produce, fruit juice and milk. Number 6, entamoeba histolytic, is a protozoa in fresh produce. Number 7 is trichinella spiralis, or pork worm. Number 8, Opisthorchiidae, is flatworms found in freshwater fish. Number 9 is ascaris spp., roundwoms contracted by eating contaminated fresh produce. And Number 10, trypanosoma cruzi, is a protozoa found in contaminated fruit juices.

New guidelines to control these parasites are being developed with support form the the FAO and WHO. The goal is to develop new standards for the international food trade.



  1. Gene Cox says

    Nice post. Parasites are often overlooked.

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