Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It is a "cold" solace that the world is in a better position to day in the food borne diseases front if the statistics generated on this subject are to be believed. Of course the figures are relevant to the US only but the general trend could not be much different in other countries also. Improved processing technologies, better performing equipment and more potent disinfectants could have contributed to lesser incidences of diseases arising out of consumption of commercially processed foods. As citizens become more and more enlightened and knowledgeable about food, hygiene and sanitation, less and less food infection events are reported from the households also.

"Compared to 1996-1998, rates of infection in 2009 were lower for Shigella (55% decrease), Yersinia (53% decrease), STEC O157 (41% decrease), Campylobacter (30% decrease), Listeria (26% decrease), and Salmonella (10% decrease). Rates were higher for Vibrio (85% increase), and having been increasing since 2001. The incidence of infection with Cryptosporidium did not change significantly".

Of course in India there are no reliable figures that can be relied upon to come to any meaningful conclusion. Probably only very serious food borne infections requiring hospitalization get attention from the media and the government and here again there is no coordinating agency at the national level to collate and document infection episodes arising out of food consumption. With people reluctant to go to any government agency unless it is absolutely necessary or some thing can be gained from the government, there is no way the country can establish a reliable centralized food borne disease data base in the foreseeable future.

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