Testing milk in Kenya's informal market

Testing milk in Kenya’s informal market (photo credit: ILRI/Dave Elsworth).

Illness and death from diseases caused by contaminated food are a constant threat to public health and a significant impediment to socioeconomic development worldwide.

To help address the lack of data on the global extent of this problem, the World Health Organization established the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) to generate the first ever estimates of the global burden of foodborne disease.

The group published its results in December 2015 in a series of scientific articles in PLOS Collections and a report titled WHO estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases.

They include estimates of the burden of foodborne diseases caused by 31 bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals.

The results will be presented and discussed at a FERG symposium in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on 15-16 December 2015.

Countries will be able to use these estimates to inform national policy development aimed at improving food safety and public health throughout the food chain.