Estimating deaths from foodborne disease in the UK for 11 key pathogens

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Objective To estimate the number of deaths from foodborne disease in the UK from 11 key pathogens. Design Four different models were developed using data from a range of sources. These included enhanced surveillance, outbreaks, death certificates and hospital episode statistics data. For each model, median estimates were produced with 95 credible intervals (CrI). The results from the different models were compared. Results The estimates for foodborne deaths for each pathogen from the different models were consistent, with CrIs largely overlapping. Based on the preferred model for each pathogen, foodborne norovirus is estimated to cause 56 deaths per year (95 CrI 32 to 92), foodborne Salmonella 33 deaths (95 CrI 7 to 159), foodborne Listeria monocytogenes 26 deaths (95 CrI 24 to 28), foodborne Clostridium perfringens 25 deaths (95 CrI 1 to 163) and foodborne Campylobacter 21 deaths (95 CrI 8 to 47). The considerable overlap in the CrIs means it is not possible to make any firm conclusions on ranking. Most of these deaths occur in those aged over 75 years. Foodborne deaths from Shigella, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, adenovirus, astrovirus and rotavirus are all rare. Conclusions We estimate that there are 180 deaths per year in the UK (95 CrI 113 to 359) caused by foodborne disease based on these 11 pathogens. While this is a small fraction of the estimated 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness per year it still illustrates the potential severity of these illnesses demonstrating the importance in continuing efforts to reduce these infections.




Holland, D., Thomson, L., Mahmoudzadeh, N., & Khaled, A. (2020). Estimating deaths from foodborne disease in the UK for 11 key pathogens. BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 7(1).

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