This report from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) summarises data from ten years of exploration into the normally unseen impacts of foodborne diseases. It is the first comprehensive analysis of the global burden of foodborne disease. The types of foodborne diseases and their consequences vary given location and circumstance, but one shared feature across all foodborne diseases is their ability to go undetected, undiagnosed and untreated.
By using Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) as a key indicator, WHO identified 31 global hazards causing 600 million foodborne diseases and 420,000 foodborne related deaths in 2010 alone – indicating that foodborne diseases contribute significantly to causes of mortality and morbidity. This report and its accompanying tools can help policymakers, healthcare workers, researchers and food businesses better understand the impact of foodborne illnesses, stimulate action to promote food safety regulations and practices, and raise public awareness and consumer demand for safe foods.
Some of the key messages from the report include:
- There is a role for all stakeholders to better prevent, track and treat foodborne disease
- Better data is needed to document the full burden of foodborne related illness, disease and death
- Foodborne diseases often go undetected, undiagnosed and untreated
- Foodborne diseases contribute significantly to causes of mortality and morbidity