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WHO Reports That Contaminated Food Kills 125,000 Children Every Year

Update Date: Dec 04, 2015 09:54 AM EST

Every year, about 600 million people show the ill-effects of eating contaminated food, with 420,000 dying, including 125,000 children, the World Health Organization reports.

"The data we are publishing is only a very conservative estimate, we are sure that the real figure is bigger," Kazuaki Miyagishima, director of WHO's Department of Food Safety, told reporters, according to Reuters.

The "WHO Estimates of the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases," gives the first estimate of the effect of food contaminants.

The United Nations health agency examined 31 foodborne illnesses, caused by bacteria such as salmonella, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals.

WHO reported that about one in 10 fall ill every year due to contaminated food, with smaller kids under five years accounting for 40 percent of the reported cases.

They may not only lead to nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, their effects can be more serious, with cancer, kidney or liver failure, brain disorders, epilepsy and arthritis, WHO said.

While there are high cases reported in Africa and Southeast Asia, the United States and Europe also show deadly rush of illnesses.

"Our results show that the biggest burden is in Africa and in southeast Asia, and there the death rates are highest, including those of children under five years of age," said University of Florida expert Arie Hendrik Havelaar, who chaired the WHO group of 150 scientists writing the report.

Even though the U.S., Canada and South America have reported the second-lowest rate of food poisoning, 77 million people fall ill and 9,000 die, including 2,000 children, mainly due to the norovirus, campylobacter, E. coli and salmonella.

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