Food born diseases

food borne diseases


Access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. The term “food-borne disease” is defined as: “A disease usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food.” They are the result of the ingestion of foodstuffs contaminated with microorganisms or chemicals. Unsafe food poses global health threats, endangering everyone. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with an underlying illness are particularly vulnerable.

Food borne diseases encompass a wide spectrum of illnesses and are a growing public health problem worldwide. Over 200 diseases are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, chemical substances. It is estimated that 2 million deaths occur every year from contaminated food or drinking water.

Most common clinical presentation of food borne disease takes the form of gastrointestinal symptoms; however, such diseases can also have neurological, gynecological, immunological and other symptoms. With the increase in urbanization, tourism and mass catering systems, food borne diseases are on the increase throughout the world.

Classifications: food borne disease

Majorly food borne disease may be classified as:

  1. Food –borne intoxications

  • Due to naturally occurring toxins in some foods such as Lathyrism and Endemic ascitis
  • Due to toxins produced by certain bacteria like Botulism and Staphyloccus poisons
  • Due to toxins produced by some fungi like Alfatoxin, Ergot, Fusarium toxins etc.
  • Food-borne chemical poisoning such as heavy metals (mercury in fishes, cadmium in certain shellfish, lead in canned food), asbestos, Pesticide residues (DDT, BHC)

2. Food –borne infections

There are different groups of infections caused by different organisms.

  • Bacterial diseases: Typhoid fever, Botulism, B.cereus Food poisoning, Salmonella, Shigellosis Brucellosis
  • Viral diseases: Viral hepatitis, Gastroenteritis
  • Parasited: Taeniasis Hydatidois, Trichinosis,Ascariasis, Amoebiasis.







  1. WHO
  2. Morton, L.D. Proce. Nutr. Soc. 36:101
  4. Elton, G.A.H. Proce. Nutr. Soc. 36:113
  6. WHO (2015) Fact sheet Food Safety