Key facts

with 1,25,000 deaths every year.

Major food-related illnesses and causes

Chemical contamination can lead to acute poisoning or long-term diseases, such as cancer. Foodborne diseases may lead to long-lasting disability and death.



Some parasites, such as fish-borne trematodes, are only transmitted through food. Others, for example, tapeworms like Echinococcus spp, or Taenia solium, may infect people through food or direct contact with animals


Prions, infectious agents composed of protein, are unique in that they are associated with specific forms of neurodegenerative disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is a prion disease in cattle, associated with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans.


Food safety: a public health priority

Unsafe food poses global health threats, endangering everyone. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with an underlying illness are particularly vulnerable. Every year 220 million children contract diarrhoeal diseases and 96 000 die.

Everyone can contribute to making food safe. Here are some examples of effective actions:

Policy-makers can:

Food consumers can:

WHO response

WHO aims to facilitate global prevention, detection, and response to public health threats associated with unsafe food. Ensuring consumer trust in their authorities, and confidence in the safe food supply is an outcome that WHO works to achieve.

To do this, WHO helps the Member States build capacity to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks by:

WHO works closely with FAO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and other international organizations to ensure food safety along the entire food chain from production to consumption.

Key Learnings: Food safety is paramount for the food regime as it helps us to gain a healthy lifestyle. Here we have to avoid chemicals as many organizations are giving priority to public health.

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