The Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases

Foodborne diseases outbreaks have devastating health and economic consequences in both developed and developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) identified the need to estimate the full extent of the disease burden associated with unsafe food.
WHO launched in 2006 an initiative to Estimate the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases to provide Member States with data and tools to support policy-makers and other stakeholders to set appropriate, evidence-informed priorities of food safety at country level. This is an international collaborative project including a large number of partners, but coordinated by the foodborne burden epidemiology reference group of WHO (FERG). FERG is divided into a number of thematic task forces which focus on different aspects of foodborne disease. The group from Zurich lead the parasitic diseases task force which is focussing on the burden of disease caused specifically by foodborne parasites. However, we are also involved closely with the computational diseases task force which aims at developing computational methodology to assemble the data and to model missing data. The global burden of foodborne disease has been published in late 2015. It consists of the total burden in terms of Disability Adjusted Life Years, the burdens caused by each pathogen or chemical contaminant and the proportion of diseases that are acquired via foodborne transmission.