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Invasive Fungal Infections Acquired from Contaminated Food or Nutritional Supplements: A Review of the Literature
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  • Alternative Title:
    Foodborne Pathog Dis
  • Description:
    Fungi are an integral part of the natural environment and, therefore, play many roles in relation to food: some fungi are used in food production, some are food sources themselves, and some are agents of food spoilage. Some fungi that contaminate food can also be harmful to human health. The harmful but noninfectious health consequences of mycotoxins have been well-characterized, but the extent to which fungi in food pose a risk for invasive infections is unknown. We conducted a literature review to identify cases of invasive fungal infections (IFIs) believed to have resulted from ingestion or inhalation of food, beverages, or dietary supplements (excluding Saccharomyces infections). We identified 11 publications describing cases or small outbreaks of IFIs related to foods or beverages and three describing IFIs related to dietary supplements. These food-associated IFIs were predominantly mold infections, and the few yeast infections were associated with dairy products. Suspected foodborne IFIs appear to be rare, but are increasingly described in the electronically searchable literature. They are associated with a variety of foods, are due to a variety of fungal pathogens, and primarily occur in persons with immunosuppressive conditions or other predisposing factors. Various guidelines for high-risk patients recommend avoidance of certain food products that may contain high levels of fungi, but further work is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these restrictive diets in preventing fungal infections. The relationships between food spoilage, food insecurity, and IFI risk are another area that may warrant further exploration.
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