Climate Change Is About to Make Foodborne Illnesses More Powerful, Researchers Warn

Climate Change Is About to Make Foodborne Illnesses More Powerful, Researchers Warn

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The pre-harvest stage of food production poses the greatest risk of contamination by pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli. (Photo Modified: Flickr/m.shattock)

Climate change, which is causing rising temperatures all over the world, is expected to compromise global food security and increase the rate of foodborne illness, according to a new study published in Food Research International.

The study, a collaboration between Ghent University in Belgium and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, was conducted for the Veg-i-Trade, a European research project which specifically explores the link between climate change and foodborne illness.

“Climate change is expected to challenge the effectiveness of food safety management systems in the near future,” the study cautions. “Climate and weather events play an important role in the presence of pathogens as warmer ambient temperature in combination with differences in eating behavior may contribute to the foodborne portion of the increased incident of enteric (intestinal) diseases.”

Areas of particular concern include the facilitation of easier contact between food and contaminants, growth of mold, and blooms of algae that may be increasingly harmful to shellfish. What’s more, researchers predicted that the use of pesticides would increase, as existing pests are expected to adapt to environmental changes.

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