The public health effects of illness caused by foodborne pathogens in Greece during 1996–2006 was quantified by using publicly available surveillance data, hospital statistics, and literature. Results were expressed as the incidence of different disease outcomes and as disability-adjusted life years (DALY), a health indicator combining illness and death estimates into a single metric. It has been estimated that each year ≈370,000 illnesses/million inhabitants are likely caused because of eating contaminated food; 900 of these illnesses are severe and 3 fatal, corresponding to 896 DALY/million inhabitants. Ill-defined intestinal infections accounted for the greatest part of reported cases and 27% of the DALY. Brucellosis, echinococcosis, salmonellosis, and toxoplasmosis were found to be the most common known causes of foodborne illnesses, being responsible for 70% of the DALY. Overall, the DALY metric provided a quantitative perspective on the impact of foodborne illness that may be useful for prioritizing food safety management targets.
Keywords: enteric infections, parasites, bacteria, foodborne disease, disability-adjusted life year, DALY, risk ranking, food safety management, Greece, synopsis