New World Health Organization (WHO) global estimates of foodborne diseases find 1 in 10 people now get sick from contaminated food each year, and children under 5 years of age are at high risk of death from the disease.
"This is sobering news," says Dr. Pritish Tosh, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert. "It puts into perspective how big the problems of clean water and sanitation are around the world."
Key statistics in the new report include:
- 600 million people worldwide fall ill from foodborne illnesses every year
- 420,000 people worldwide die from eating contaminated food every year
- Children under 5 years of age are at particularly high risk for death, with 125,000 dying every year
- Africa and Southeast Asia have the highest burden of foodborne diseases
The WHO report says the risk of foodborne diseases is most severe in low- and middle-income countries. It is linked to a number of factors, including preparing food with unsafe water, poor hygiene and inadequate conditions in food production and storage.