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Europe: Denmark participates in finding global burden of foodborne disease


Every year one in 10 people around the world gets sick from food they eat and 420,000 died as a result, according to a report from the World Health Organization, WHO, which uncovers the global burden of foodborne disease.

Knowledge about the burden of foodborne disease is crucial when setting public health targets, prioritizing resources and assessing the impact of these diseases on public health and the economy.

Statistics on foodborne disease only show the tip of the iceberg because few people go to the doctor when they get sick from something they have eaten.

Over the past decade, WHO has worked to produce data that can correct for underreporting and underdiagnosis and thereby reveal the true burden of foodborne disease.

This work has been carried out with the help of researchers from around the world, including researchers from the National Food Institute, who have contributed with significant input.

Children most at risk

The project shows that within one year, one in ten people globally get sick from food they eat and of these, 420,000 end up dying.

Foodborne diseases affect people of all ages, but children are particularly at risk.

WHO’s new figures show that a third of deaths related to unsafe food occur among children under five, although this age group is less than one tenth of the world’s population.

The report also shows regional differences and reveals that both cases of foodborne disease and mortality rates as a consequence thereof are higher in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Danish input

The institute’s researchers has been part of an international research team, that has calculated the number of cases of disease and deaths caused by nine bacteria, viruses and parasites, which are commonly transmitted through food and typically cause diarrhea.

They have also led a global study to estimate, how big a proportion of these diseases that is directly linked to food consumption.

Story by Heidi Kornholt and Miriam Meister from Technical University of Denmark.