420,000 needless food-related deaths a year… so what are we going to do?

Maya NikolovskiInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

This article refers to something so important, I think it’s worth posting about a second time – and if folk engage with us we might actually make a difference. The World Health Organization says some 420,000 people die each year from food-borne diseases, with young children accounting for more than a quarter of all deaths. The U.N. health agency says it estimates that about 600 million people fall ill annually after consuming tainted food. It says children under 5 are particularly vulnerable to serious illness, resulting in 125,000 deaths a year.

The agency said recently that a comprehensive review of diseases caused by 31 types of bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals found the highest burden in Africa and Southeast Asia. It said consumption of raw or under-cooked meat, eggs, fresh produce and dairy products is a particular problem. Other major food-borne diseases are typhoid fever, hepatitis A, tapeworm and aflatoxin, a mold that grows on poorly stored grain.

We know that this can largely be resolved by taking simple basic food hygiene precautions – and yes, they might easily be introduced by a simple ‘Checklist’. Once again, we’d encourage you to read ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande – Just look at the reviews and start to think what the same approach could do for food deaths. OK so I know you’re thinking ‘ah, but that’s the poor Africans, not us here in Canada, the USA or Europe’… but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million food-borne illness cases occur in the United States every year.  At least 128,000 Americans are hospitalized, and 3,000 die after eating contaminated food. So 3000 people die after eating contaminated food each year… and we get all worried about terrorism – the real terrorist is in our own hands, it seems!

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