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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Sep;8(9):961-73. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2011.0860. Epub 2011 May 11.

The occurrence and prevention of foodborne disease in vulnerable people.

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Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK.


In developed countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, between 15% and 20% of the population show greater susceptibility than the general population to foodborne disease. This proportion includes people with primary immunodeficiency, patients treated with radiation or with immunosuppressive drugs for cancer and diseases of the immune system, those with acquired immune-deficiency syndrome and diabetics, people suffering from liver or kidney disease or with excessive iron in the blood, pregnant women, infants, and the elderly. Malnutrition and use of antacids, particularly proton-pump inhibitors, also increase susceptibility. We review the occurrence of infection by foodborne pathogens in these groups of people and measures to prevent infection. The nature and use of low microbial diets to reduce the risk of foodborne disease in immunocompromised patients are very variable. Diets for vulnerable people in care should exclude higher-risk foods, and vulnerable people in the community should receive clear advice about food safety, in particular avoidance of higher-risk foods and substitution of safer, nutritious foods.

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