Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Med. 2015 Dec 3;12(12):e1001923. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001923. eCollection 2015 Dec.

World Health Organization Global Estimates and Regional Comparisons of the Burden of Foodborne Disease in 2010.

Author information

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.
Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Gibb Epidemiology Consulting, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America.
Danish Technical University, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.
Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
University of Kelaniya, Ragama, Sri Lanka.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Amman, Jordan.
Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.
World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium.


Illness and death from diseases caused by contaminated food are a constant threat to public health and a significant impediment to socio-economic development worldwide. To measure the global and regional burden of foodborne disease (FBD), the World Health Organization (WHO) established the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG), which here reports their first estimates of the incidence, mortality, and disease burden due to 31 foodborne hazards. We find that the global burden of FBD is comparable to those of the major infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The most frequent causes of foodborne illness were diarrheal disease agents, particularly norovirus and Campylobacter spp. Diarrheal disease agents, especially non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica, were also responsible for the majority of deaths due to FBD. Other major causes of FBD deaths were Salmonella Typhi, Taenia solium and hepatitis A virus. The global burden of FBD caused by the 31 hazards in 2010 was 33 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs); children under five years old bore 40% of this burden. The 14 subregions, defined on the basis of child and adult mortality, had considerably different burdens of FBD, with the greatest falling on the subregions in Africa, followed by the subregions in South-East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean D subregion. Some hazards, such as non-typhoidal S. enterica, were important causes of FBD in all regions of the world, whereas others, such as certain parasitic helminths, were highly localised. Thus, the burden of FBD is borne particularly by children under five years old-although they represent only 9% of the global population-and people living in low-income regions of the world. These estimates are conservative, i.e., underestimates rather than overestimates; further studies are needed to address the data gaps and limitations of the study. Nevertheless, all stakeholders can contribute to improvements in food safety throughout the food chain by incorporating these estimates into policy development at national and international levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center