Foodborne diseases

Although the WHO European Region has the lowest estimated burden of foodborne diseases globally, the report “Estimates of the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases” indicates that more than 23 million people in the Region fall ill from eating contaminated food annually, resulting in 5000 deaths.

Diarrhoeal diseases account for the majority of foodborne illnesses in the WHO European Region, the most common being norovirus infections, which cause an estimated 15 million cases, followed by campylobacteriosis, which causes close to 5 million cases. Non-typhoid salmonellosis causes the most deaths – almost 2000 annually.

Foodborne toxoplasmosis, a severe parasitic disease caught by eating undercooked or raw meat and fresh produce, may cause up to 20% of the total foodborne disease burden and affects more than 1 million people in the Region each year. Listeria infection can result in septicaemia and meningitis and causes an estimated 400 deaths in the European Region annually. People are usually infected with Listeria by consuming contaminated raw vegetables, ready-to-eat meals, processed meats, smoked fish or soft cheeses.

This report is the most comprehensive to date on the impact of contaminated food on health and well-being and provides estimates of the burden of foodborne diseases caused by 31 agents – bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals.

To read more about the report on the euro.who.int website