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Food and Zoonoses: Exploring Disease Threats from Our Food Sources


In recent years, zoonotic diseases have emerged that cause fatalities in humans. These diseases naturally transmit from animals to humans and vice versa. To anticipate the spread of zoonotic outbreaks, a comprehensive understanding of these diseases or infections is necessary. One effort to prevent the transmission of zoonotic diseases is by increasing public knowledge, awareness, and concern through socialization.

The link between zoonoses and food represents a significant potential source of disease transmission. Many zoonoses such as salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, and E. coli infections can be spread through the consumption of food contaminated by animal feces or improperly processed animal products. Many are unaware that animal-derived food products consumed by the public must adhere to the principles of safe, healthy, intact, and halal (SHIH) food quality, namely:

  • Safe, meaning animal-derived food does not contain biological hazards, pathogens, and physical elements that can cause disease.
  • Healthy, meaning animal-derived food contains balanced elements (protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins) necessary and beneficial for human health and growth, especially in developing children.
  • Intact, meaning animal-derived food is not mixed with other parts of the animal and conforms to the description provided on the product.
  • Halal, meaning animal-derived food refers to a condition where the food has been declared halal according to Islamic law.

Some types of animal-derived food that have the potential to be sources of zoonotic transmission include:

1. Meat

Animal-derived food ingredients such as meat are perishable foods, which is due to the fact that meat contains nutrients that are quite favorable for the growth of microorganisms, especially bacteria, thus affecting the shelf life and quality of the end product.

2. Eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs can also contain bacteria such as Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning if not cooked thoroughly.

3. Milk

If not properly pasteurized, milk can be a good medium for bacteria, viruses, and parasitic pathogens such as brucellosis, listeriosis, and campylobacteriosis to survive and transmit to humans through consumption.

Commonly found pathogenic bacteria in Indonesia include:

Salmonella sp.

Chicken and meat sources and improper production processes are among the risk factors for the exposure of animal-derived products to pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella sp. This contamination is known as foodborne disease. The presence of pathogenic bacteria in food can jeopardize consumer health; Salmonella sp. causes salmonellosis. Globally, incidents of Salmonella sp. pathogen infections have resulted in millions of cases annually, both in humans and animals. The annual incidence of salmonellosis in humans worldwide is estimated at 93.8 million cases. According to reports from the European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control during the vulnerable period from 2004 to 2015, the highest incidence of Salmonella sp. infections originated from chicken meat and its processed products. Salmonella sp. infections in humans are generally associated with the consumption of animal-derived contaminated food.

Salmonella sp. is one of the common food poisoning bacteria found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and contaminated dairy products. Transmission occurs through the consumption of inadequately cooked food or food contaminated by infected animal feces. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain, which can last for several days to weeks. Prevention against Salmonella includes good sanitation practices in food production and processing facilities, including milk pasteurization, cooking meat to safe temperatures, and ensuring eggs are thoroughly cooked.


Campylobacter is a Gram-negative bacterium that resides in the gastrointestinal tract of warm-blooded animals. This bacterium can be found in food originating from animals contaminated with animal feces during food processing. Campylobacter causes acute infections in the digestive tract, leading to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever. C. jejuni and C. coli dominate the transmission of diseases through improperly cooked and cleaned poultry products. Prevention of Campylobacter infection includes cooking chicken meat to safe temperatures, separating utensils and surfaces used to handle poultry products from other food products, and thoroughly washing hands after handling poultry products or animal feces.

E. coli

E.coli is a bacterium that often causes food poisoning. Transmission occurs through the consumption of contaminated food or contact with feces from infected animals. Symptoms of E. coli infection include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and fever, which can progress to serious complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in severe cases. Contamination of E. coli bacteria in meat indicates poor sanitation in food management. The bacteria can cause changes in meat such as odor and mucus formation. Hygiene related to meat processing and handling is crucial because E. coli contamination comes from various sources, including water used. Market conditions also facilitate E. coli contamination. Markets with various activities happening inside and around them can lead to potential cross-contamination in food products, whether from household-scale or large-scale industries that utilize chicken meat as a primary ingredient and have been contaminated.

Prevention of Salmonella sp., Campylobacter, and E. coli Infections : 

Meat, eggs, and milk are animal products that are vulnerable to becoming sources of zoonotic transmission if not processed or stored properly. It is important to ensure that these animal products are processed and stored correctly according to established food safety guidelines. Cooking meat to safe temperatures, ensuring eggs are thoroughly cooked before consumption, and choosing pasteurized milk are steps that can reduce the risk of zoonotic transmission through food. Additionally, environmental cleanliness in places where animal products are produced and processed also plays a crucial role in preventing contamination and disease spread.

Prevention of Salmonella sp., Campylobacter, and E. coli infections can also be achieved by washing hands thoroughly before handling food. With appropriate preventive measures, the risk of transmitting Salmonella sp., Campylobacter, and E. coli through food can be reduced, thus helping to maintain public health.

Government Role

The government plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable and health-safe agricultural and livestock practices, with a focus on preventing zoonotic diseases originating from food sources. One of the key strategies implemented is the establishment and enforcement of strict regulations regarding sanitation and cleanliness throughout the animal food supply chain, from production to distribution. These regulations include sanitation standards for farm facilities, wise use and management of waste, as well as rigorous animal health monitoring. The government also facilitates training and certification for farmers and livestock breeders to enhance their understanding of safe and sustainable practices.

In addition to regulations, the government also provides incentives and financial support to agricultural and livestock stakeholders who adopt more environmentally friendly practices and focus on animal welfare. This includes promoting organic farming, using natural fertilizers and pesticides, and implementing more ethical animal husbandry methods. These programs aim to encourage the transition to more ecologically and economically sustainable agricultural systems while minimizing risks to human and animal health.

Furthermore, the government actively supports research and innovation in sustainable agriculture and livestock farming. This includes investment in new technologies for animal health monitoring, the development of more effective vaccines, and the improvement of safe and environmentally friendly food processing methods. Through collaboration between the government, academia, and the private sector, these efforts aim to enhance the efficiency of animal food production while reducing its negative impact on the environment and human health.

Reference : 

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