Research – Foodborne Parasites and Their Complex Life Cycles Challenging Food Safety in Different Food Chains

MDPI

Abstract

Zoonotic foodborne parasites often represent complex, multi host life cycles with parasite stages in the hosts, but also in the environment. This manuscript aims to provide an overview of important zoonotic foodborne parasites, with a focus on the different food chains in which parasite stages may occur. We have chosen some examples of meat-borne parasites occurring in livestock (Taenia spp., Trichinella spp. and Toxoplasma gondii), as well as Fasciola spp., an example of a zoonotic parasite of livestock, but transmitted to humans via contaminated vegetables or water, covering the ‘farm to fork’ food chain; and meat-borne parasites occurring in wildlife (Trichinella spp., Toxoplasma gondii), covering the ‘forest to fork’ food chain. Moreover, fish-borne parasites (Clonorchis spp., Opisthorchis spp. and Anisakidae) covering the ‘pond/ocean/freshwater to fork’ food chain are reviewed. The increased popularity of consumption of raw and ready-to-eat meat, fish and vegetables may pose a risk for consumers, since most post-harvest processing measures do not always guarantee the complete removal of parasite stages or their effective inactivation. We also highlight the impact of increasing contact between wildlife, livestock and humans on food safety. Risk based approaches, and diagnostics and control/prevention tackled from an integrated, multipathogen and multidisciplinary point of view should be considered as well.

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