The World Bank recently published The Safe Food Imperative: Accelerating Progress in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, a study conducted in low - and middle - income economies (LMIC) showing that foodborne illnesses cause US$ 110 Billion in losses mostly to lost productivity and medical expenses annually. Yet, most of these impacts can be avoided by applying preventive measures at the top of the production chain according to the study.
The productivity loss represents around US$ 95 billion a year, from which the lower-middle-income countries account for US$40.6 billion (43 percent) and the medical expenses to treat foodborne illnesses rise up to US$ 15 billion. The study shows that the world’s lower-middle-income countries accounted for 70 percent of the estimated human capital productivity loss from Foodborne diseases of all developing countries in 2016. By region, LMICs in Asia account for US$63.1 billion, and those in Sub-Saharan Africa for US$16.7 billion.
The main reasons for the exposure of the population to foodborne illnesses for many low- and middle-income countries, are rapid demographic and dietary changes, which overwhelm their current capacity to manage food safety risks.
Apart from the economic impact, unsafe food affects children the most, with children under 5 accounting for almost 40 percent of foodborne disease and 30 percent of related deaths, which rose up to 420,000 premature deaths in 2010 according to World Health Organization despite being less than 10% of the world's population.
The study also addresses regulatory issues and proposes solutions to many of these problems, aimed mainly to prevent the foodborne illnesses to appear as summarized in the following infographic.