WHO Report Estimates Food Illnesses' Burden

According to WHO, the burden of foodborne diseases to public health and welfare has often been underestimated because of under-reporting and difficulty to establish causal relationships between food contamination and resulting illnesses or deaths.

Unsafe food sickens an estimated 600 million people and kills 420,000 of them every year, according to a new report issued by the World Health Organization. It says the illnesses caused by food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances causes more than 200 diseases that range from diarrhoea to cancers and results in the loss of 33 million healthy life years; children younger than 5 represent 40 percent of the foodborne disease burden with 125,000 deaths per year, according to WHO.

Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli are among the most common foodborne pathogens that affect millions of people annually. Listeria infection is another common problem caused by unsafe food.

According to WHO, the burden of foodborne diseases to public health and welfare has often been underestimated because of under-reporting and difficulty to establish causal relationships between food contamination and resulting illnesses or deaths.

The new report offers the first-ever estimates of disease burden caused by 31 foodborne agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals) at global and regional level.

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