We already know that food is vulnerable to contamination in a way that risks making us sick. Just look, for instance, at the food-safety scandals in China, or the recently concluded chicken Salmonella outbreak in the U.S., which sickened 634 people in 29 states.
And those problems were confined to single countries. What’s new, and what the WHO is highlighting, is how difficult it is to even get a handle on the risks of foodborne illness when foods move back and forth across borders in stages of production. A 2011 outbreak of E. coli in Germany, for instance—which sickened more than 3,700 people and cost $1.3 billion—turns out to have originated with salad sprouts grown from seeds that were raised, and somehow contaminated, in Egypt.
In a new estimate, the first from an ongoing project, the organization says that in a single year, 582 million people around the world suffer foodborne illness, and up to 351,000 die. Two-fifths of them, the WHO says, are children.
Read the rest on The Plate. Feature image from Flickr User Nedra, via the The Plate.