Introduction

The most severe biological hazards in foods are pathogenic bacteria, which may cause illness as direct agents (infection) or through production of various toxins (intoxication), while additional biological hazards include parasitic and viral agents. Typical clinical symptoms of foodborne bacterial and viral diseases include acute diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, or some other manifestation in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, syndromes associated with the central nervous system or various organs, as well as various chronic sequelae, may also be the direct or indirect result of foodborne pathogenic bacteria. Individuals with suppressed or compromised immune systems are more susceptible to severe foodborne microbial illness. Prions found in animal central nervous tissue are considered a potential newer type of hazard, leading to development of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that for the period 1993 1997, meat and poultry were responsible for 17.3% of the total outbreaks of known vehicle of transmission and for 11.4% of the corresponding cases (www.cdc.gov).

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