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16.10.18

World Food Day 2018: Ruthless food production?

A baby's relation to its mother is based on unconditional trust. Health-endangering food-stuffs turn both of them into unwitting victims. | © Veterinarians without Borders

Today is World Food Day. For an incredible total of 800 million people, sufficient food and clean drinking water are still not a matter of course. At the same time, the quality of food is often poor, especially in developing countries.

In Tanzania, for example, many women are HIV-positive and have to feed their babies with milk powder. However, the quality of the milk powder is hardly controlled. Prof. Dagmar Schoder, president of Veterinarians without Borders Austria and head of the research group "Global Food Safety" at the Vetmeduni Vienna, has analyzed, in co-operation with the AGES (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety), milk powder samples from Africa with respect to heavy metal contamination. The alarming result: 2.3 % of these samples showed a significantly increased concentration of lead. The samples originated from a branded product.

Lead primarily affects the nervous system, resulting in reduced intelligence, motoric and growth disorders. For a baby's organism, heavy metals are even more dangerous than for adults. Because babies absorb food more efficiently. The quantity of milk drunk by a baby per day equals a fifth of its body weight. Kidney and liver are not yet fully developed and thus cannot detox an infant's body to the same extent as an adult's.

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