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Staggering toll from tainted food worldwide

BERLIN -- The World Health Organization says some 420,000 people die each year from foodborne diseases, with young children accounting for more than a quarter of all deaths.

The U.N. health agency says it estimates that about 600 million people fall ill annually after consuming tainted food.

It says children under 5 are particularly vulnerable to serious illness, resulting in 125,000 deaths a year.

The agency said Thursday that a comprehensive review of diseases caused by 31 types of bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals found the highest burden in Africa and Southeast Asia.

It said consumption of raw or undercooked meat, eggs, fresh produce and dairy products is a particular problem.

Other major foodborne diseases are typhoid fever, hepatitis A, tapeworm and aflatoxin, a mold that grows on poorly stored grain.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 48 million people -- 1 in 6 Americans -- gets sick from foodborne illness each year. About 128,000 need to be hospitalized and 3,000 die.

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