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Foodborne Illnesses Claim 420,000 Lives Each Year

Global estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that 600 million people suffer illness caused by contaminated food – that’s approximately one in 10 of the world’s population. 

Of the 600 million people affected, 420,000 people die as a result of foodborne illness. Tragically, a third of these deaths are children under the age of five. Food poisoning and the bacteria responsible for illness outbreaks pose a bigger risk to children, the elderly and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Of particular concern with foodborne illnesses is undercooked meat – particularly poultry – eggs, dairy products and fresh produce. The most common forms of food poisoning are norovirus, Salmonella and E.coli.

Further to the shocking rates of illness and fatalities caused by food poisoning, the research revealed that foodborne illness has resulted in 33 million disability-adjusted life years (DALY) – in other words, the overall affect an illness has had, where one DALY equals one year of healthy life that’s been lost due to the illness.

Bread Skull

The Report

The report reveals the first global estimates of food poisoning and foodborne illness, involving 10 years’ research of 31 agents including bacteria, parasites, toxins and chemicals.

Director-General of the WHO, Doctor Margaret Chan, stated: "Until now, estimates of food-borne diseases were vague and imprecise.

"This concealed the true human costs of contaminated food. This report sets the record straight. Knowing which food-borne pathogens are causing the biggest problems in which parts of the world can generate targeted action by the public, governments and the food industry."

A Global Issue

If you’re planning a trip overseas and are concerned about health warnings, the WHO’s research revealed Africa and South East Asia are the most affected areas, yet food poisoning is a world-wide problem.

Earlier in summer 2015, Slater and Gordon travel solicitors commissioned research into holiday illnesses with a study of 2,000 people, following an increase in holiday illness compensation claims. The results revealed 40 per cent of people said that hygiene concerns would affect where they decided to go on holiday. The three holiday destinations with the most cases of holiday illness are Spain, Turkey and Greece.

When it comes to food poisoning and holiday illness overseas, the cost of medical expenses is something you can plan for by purchasing travel insurance, so that in the event a bug ruins your plans you’re covered.

Beyond any medical costs incurred whilst abroad, there is the possibility of time affected by any foodborne illness once back home. This might include time off work, in which case a holiday illness compensation claim could help to recover any financial loss for sick days and rehabilitation.

Simon Weilding is a travel lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.

If you suffer food poisoning whilst overseas, our No Win, No Fee Solicitors can help you with your claim for compensation.

Call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online. From outside the UK please call +44 20 7657 1555.

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