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Dec 03, 2015 10:06 AM EST

WHO warns against food borne diseases

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday warned against the contaminated food epidemic that makes at least 600 million people, or 1 in 10 worldwide, fall ill each year and causes the death of 420,000 people, many of them young children, Reuters reports.

The WHO report called on governments and industry to make improvements in the inspections and control of the food chain. 

Bacteria such as salmonella, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals cause food borne diseases. The symptoms of food borne diseases include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

However, serious cases of food borne diseases may cause longer-term illnesses including cancer, kidney or liver failure, brain disorders, epilepsy and arthritis, the WHO said.

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

Miyagishima added that global trading in food was also causing a problem .

"If there is one country where food safety is weak and this country exports food to other countries, (it) becomes the weakest chain in the whole food production system."

"That would be an important strategy for many countries in the world to improve the food safety situation."

The highest number of cases and deaths of food contamination occur in developing countries.

"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 Havelaar, who chaired the WHO group of 150 scientists that carried out the research for the report.

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