WHO: 125,000 child deaths annually due to contaminated food

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A laboratory technician works to identify a worm pest. Photo: FAO

Contaminated food kills 420,000 people each year, more than one-third of them children under five-years old, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.

WHO on Thursday released its first-ever estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases which it says are most severe in low- and middle-income countries.

These illnesses are linked to several factors, including preparing food with unsafe water, but also poor hygiene and inadequate conditions in food production and storage.

Dianne Penn reports.

Foodborne diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 600 million people worldwide fall ill each year from eating contaminated food. 

Some foodborne diseases only last a short time, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrohea, commonly referred to as food poisoning. 

Others, such as cancer, renal failure and arthritis, can be long-term or even deadly. 

WHO says children under five are particularly at high risk, as 125,000 die each year from contaminated food. 

Dr. Kazuaki Miyagishima is Director of Food Safety at WHO: 

"Children under five years of age carry 30 per cent of the total death toll while these children constitute only nine per cent of the whole population. So it will show you how children are carrying the significant part of the burden." 

WHO says its report underscores the need for governments, the food industry and individuals to do more to make food safe. 

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'16"

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