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Toxoplasma, nematodes and their partners: These parasites found in food can make you sick

Toxoplasma, nematodes and their partners: These parasites found in food can make you sick

It's not just germs and mold in food that can make you sick, but parasites too. You can find out here which pathogens are particularly common and how you can protect yourself.

Parasites in food can make you sick. Image: Adobe Stock/Dotana

  • Life-threatening parasites in food
  • Warning about fox tapeworm, Toxoplasma gondii and roundworms
  • This is how you can protect yourself from infection

About 100 different types of parasites can be transmitted to humans through food. These infections usually have no symptoms at all, but some can be life-threatening. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), there is currently no significant risk of parasitic infection in Germany. Three types of parasites are particularly common in Germany: fox tapeworm, Toxoplasma gondii, and roundworms (nematodes). We will tell you what foods can be infected with parasites and how you can protect yourself.

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Fox tapeworm, Toxoplasma gondii & Co.: These parasites found in food can make you sick

Infection with Fox tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) It occurs mainly through contact with wild animals such as foxes and ferrets, but also cats and dogs. Foxy tapeworm eggs are excreted in animal feces and can therefore end up in forest fruits, berries, fallen fruits and wild grasses. However, it is also possible that there are eggs in animal fur that can be transmitted through petting. Although infections in humans are extremely rare, if they become ill the consequences can be serious. Echinococcosis can lead to tumor-like changes in the liver, lungs, and even the brain. The first symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, and jaundice. The bad: Fox tapeworm infections usually appear years after infection.

The following measures protect against fox tapeworm infection:

  • Wash wild plants, berries and mushrooms well.
  • Always cook game meat well.
  • Avoid direct contact with foxes.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water after touching potentially contaminated food.

Parasite Toxoplasma It can be transmitted by eating raw meat. But that's not all: cats are the main carrier of the pathogen. In healthy people, infection with the parasite is usually asymptomatic or has flu-like symptoms. However, for people with pre-existing diseases or a weakened immune system, toxoplasmosis can be life-threatening.

The following measures protect against Toxoplasma infection:

  • Cook pork, lamb and game well.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating them.

Roundworms in meat: how to protect yourself from infections

Roundworms (nematodes) They occur in foods when hygiene is not maintained during production, storage and preparation. Due to high hygiene standards in Germany, nematode infestation is very rare in this country. Roundworms that can be in food include Trichinella. Infection occurs mainly through eating raw pork. In Germany, meat of all types of animals that may be contaminated with Trichella bacteria must be inspected.

The following measures protect against roundworm infection:

  • Cook the meat sufficiently, at least 70 degrees.
  • Freeze pork at -5 degrees for at least 20 days.

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