The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to ban the consumption of calcaneous algae.
In a statement, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the bacteria is considered a potential risk to public health.
It is also linked to a wide range of infections, including pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and colorectal cancer, she said.
The WHO also warned against people consuming calcaneum “unless they have been exposed to the water source prior to consumption”.
“Calcaneum can be consumed by humans and aquatic life, but should not be consumed directly by humans,” she said in the statement.
It is believed to be one of the most dangerous food additives and is used in a wide variety of products from toothpaste to cosmetics.
“We are calling on all countries to ensure that there is no use of calcineous algae and to ensure appropriate precautionary measures are in place,” she added.
The algae, also known as a flagellum, is found in waters including lakes and rivers, in tropical countries such as India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
According to the WHO, it contains about 1.5 billion microorganisms, including micro-organisms that can cause serious infections and damage tissue.
The bacteria is also known to contain polysaccharides, which can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
According a statement by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the algae is “a potential food safety risk for human consumption”.
Its presence can increase the risk of diarrhoea and vomiting in people with impaired renal function.
“These effects can occur in combination with the ingestion of food, water, beverages and salt,” it added.
More to follow.