Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of a disease.

By Wajeeha Rafaqat, Dr. Muhammad Sohail Sajid, Dr. Urfa Bin Tahir, Dr. Aisha Khatoon, Mahvish Rajpot


Taking care of your health is important for your dignity. Two broad aspects of health are physical health and mental health. Physical health means good body health, and this is only through exercise and good nutrition. Physical health attributes height and weight of body. Any person who relishes mental health does not have a mental disorder. According to the WHO, mental health is the state in which you realize your abilities. A person mentally healthy can work fruitfully and productively. There are many conditions required for good health, but food is most the important.  This paper is on the importance of pure food to stay healthy. It will describe how food gets contaminated through different infectious and non-infectious routes. It will also explain the severity of diseases that occur by eating spoiled food. Healthy food is an important aspect of a healthy life. Food can be defined as a substance consisting of protein, carbohydrates, fat and other nutrients essential for an organism to sustain growth. Food safety is a scientific discipline and describes handling, preparation and storage of food. Unsafe food poses threats to infants, young children and pregnant women. Food may be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, mycotoxins, pesticides and many other chemicals. Food can transmit diseases from person to person and serves as a growth medium for many pathogenic microorganisms, leading to food poisoning. If food poisoning is not treated well in time, it may leads to many complications or even death.

Foodborne diseases are an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Different pathogenic microorganisms can cause different diseases. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are present almost everywhere. Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and Vibrio cholera are major foodborne bacteria that affect millions of people worldwide. E.coli is associated with unpasteurized milk, fresh fruits and undercooked meat and vegetables. The sources of Salmonella contamination are poultry eggs and animal products. Vibrio cholera spreads through contaminated food and water and causes severe dehydration. Symptoms may be fever, nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach pain and other GIT problems. Listeria leads to abortions in pregnant women or death of newborn babies. Parasites are unicellular organisms having the capacity to be transmitted through foods. Ascaris, Giardia, Entamoeba histolytica, Cryptosporidium, fish-borne trematodes (Opisthorchiidae, Heterophyidae, Nanophyetidae e.g.) and tapeworms like Echinococcus spp, Taenia spp. Symptoms include gas, nausea, abdominal cramps and severe weight loss.

Some viruses also cause food poisoning. A virus is a host dependent microorganism having either DNA or RNA as genetic material. Norvovirus and hepatitis A are both major food poisoning viruses. Symptoms include explosive vomiting, watery diarrhea and abdominal pain. Hepatitis A causes long-lasting liver disease. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by certain moulds and are toxic to humans. Mycotoxins cause adverse health effects and pose a serious threat to both humans and animals. Aflatoxins, ochratoxins, trichothecenes and zearalenone are the most common mycotoxins. Aflatoxins are the most poisonous mycotoxins produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. These toxins contaminate milk products. Penicillium and Aspergillus species release ochratoxins. It is a common food poisoning toxin such as cereals, coffee, beans, wine, grape juice, liquorice, and dry fruits. Sign and systems mycotoxins cause are weak immune system, various hemorrhagic syndrome and neurological disorders.

In addition to the food-borne pathogens described above, some chemicals like mercury, cadmium, and lead cause kidney and neurologic damage. POPs (persistent organic pollutants) are the chemicals that accumulate in the body of humans and cause severe health issues. Dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls are produced by industries as waste material and are incorporated into the food chain. Pesticides are the chemicals that are used to kill pests, weeds, herbs and insects. They can also contaminate food, leading to unpleasant changes in taste, nutrition level and colour of food. Pesticides are used to protect food from insects, fungi, pests and other weeds. They can cause acute and chronic health diseases. Inadequate usage and cheaper pesticides remain in soil and water for years. They can also enter in the food chain. DDT (dichlorophenyltrichloroethane) and lindane are the most toxic pesticides. To limit their side effects, WHO developed internationally- accepted maximum residue limits. An acceptable intake allowed is 0.02mg of pesticides per 1Kg of food or crop.


Food safety: a public health problem

Unsafe food poses global health threats. Every year, 220 million children are affected by diarrheal diseases and 96000 die. Contaminated food leads to malnutrition. Safe food can save lives. When food supplies are inadequate and insecure, people tend to eat an unhealthy diet, which carries pathogens and other chemicals. Food can be contaminated at any point of production, distribution or cooking. Healthy practices to safe food must be followed while buying, preparing and storing food. Food storage is the most critical aspect of food safety. According to the WHO, there are some key principles of food hygiene:

  • Prevent contamination of food by pathogens that spread from people, pests and pets.
  • Separate raw fruits and vegetables from cooked food.
  • Cook food for an adequate length of temperature to kill pathogens.
  • Food must be stored at an appropriate temperature.
  • Use safe water and raw materials.


Purpose of article:

Health is wealth. The purpose of this study is to reveal how important clean food is for living a healthy life. For a healthy life, a balanced diet is very important. Food quality and safety is becoming a global problem. The food we are taking must be free from all kinds of pathogens. Contaminated food carries pathogenic microorganisms and toxic chemicals. This food can cause acute as well as chronic diseases by impacting stomach, liver, lungs, skin, heart and brain. If condition left untreated, it may leads to death. We should take care of yourself to live healthy.

For more information:

You can contact department of Microbiology UAF for more information. Microbiology labs will offer you food sample testing to check the purity and hygiene.

By wajeeha Rafaqat

Microbiologist Epidemiologist