Refugee camps provide basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, and medical treatment for displaced persons. Unsanitary conditions in refugee camps due to overcrowding, poor sanitation systems, lack of clean water, minimal ways to cook and store food can lead to an increased risk of foodborne illness. This article reviews the limited literature on the epidemiology of foodborne illness in refugee camps, effective risk mitigation strategies and opportunities for future research. Eleven articles were identified, suggesting that research in this area is limited. Identified research focused on three pathogens – Vibrio cholerae , Salmonella spp. and hepatitis E virus – that can lead to serious diseases including cholera, salmonellosis, typhoid fever, and hepatitis E. The research demonstrated that storage and handling of clean water for personal hygiene as well as food preparation were critical components to ensuring food safety. Additionally, knowledge pertaining to best practices for hygiene and food preparation were also identified as important. Gaps in current research include the determination of the prevalence of pathogens in food sold in refugee camps as well as development of culturally relevant food safety supply chain quality management systems. More research that focuses on burden and attribution of foodborne illness as well as food safety interventions in refugee camps is necessary.
Click here to read the article, published in the Journal of Food Protection.