Food poisoning kills 420,000 people every year, one third of them children under 5, according to a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO). Researchers from the organization looked at 10 years of data, studying 31 disease-causing agents that cause an average of 600 million illnesses each year.
“These estimates are the result of a decade of work, including input from more than 100 experts from around the world. They are conservative, and more needs to be done to improve the availability of data on the burden of foodborne diseases. But based on what we know now, it is apparent that the global burden of foodborne diseases is considerable, affecting people all over the world – particularly children under 5 years of age and people in low-income areas,” said Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses.
Who researchers found that Africa and regions of South-East Asia have the highest incidence and highest death rates, including among children under the age of 5 years. They also found that people who live in low income and middle income countries, where lack of access to clean water is prevalent, are at higher risk for foodborne illness.
Most of those deaths are caused by pathogens that cause diarrheal illness including E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Researchers said the report’s findings underscore the need for better food safety strategies around the world.