Food parasites

Abstract of the chapter

Parasites in food

Carmen Cuéllar

There are a great number of parasites that can be transmitted through the consumption of meat and fish. Ethnicity, culture and religion play important roles in the type of food that people eat and how these dishes are prepared. Therefore, these facts have influence on the type of parasites to which individuals are exposed. In the case of meat products Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma should be highlighted within the protozoa, and the genera Trichinella and Taenia in the case of helminths. Among the parasites that are associated with fish-borne diseases the flukes Opistorchis and Clonorchis are important by their high prevalence. Other important genera are Heterophyes, Metagonimus and Echinostoma. In the case of flatworms, besides flukes a representative of the cestoda (Diphyllobotrium) should be noted, which is also acquired by humans through the consumption of fish parasitized by its larval stages. Finally, we must mention nematodes that include both free living and parasitic species highlighting which use intermediate hosts related to fishing and aquaculture. Anisakis simplex is the major etiologic agent that causes human disease by consumption of raw or undercooked fish parasitized by the third larval stage of this roundworm. Parasitic diseases caused by eating meat and fish can be avoided avoid applying appropriate prophylactic measures. Consumers must avoid eating raw foods that have not been subjected to freezing for enough time in order to kill the parasites. Also, animal products intended for human consumption must be subject to strict sanitary control measures.