FERG - Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group

Last updated on 14-12-2022 by Pierre Daubresse
Project duration:
September 25, 2006
Project with no end date

In short

Established first in 2007, the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) is a technical advisory group that advises the World Health Organization on the methodology to estimate the burden of foodborne diseases. 
In 2015, the FERG generated the first-ever estimates of the global burden of foodborne disease. 
In 2021, the FERG was reconvened to 

  • develop updated and improved estimates of the global burden of foodborne disease
  • support countries in undertaking national burden of foodborne disease studies
  • propose indicators and targets for a global food safety monitoring framework.

Project description

The FERG’s work now also includes advising methods and indicators to monitor global progress in food safety. 

The first group of members were engaged in assembling, appraising and reporting on the burden of foodborne disease estimate. This included : 

  • conducting epidemiological reviews for mortality, morbidity and disability in each of the major Foodborne diseases (FBDs) 
  • providing models for the estimation of FBD burden where data are lacking
  • developing cause and source attribution models to estimate the proportion of diseases that are foodborne 
  • developing user-friendly tools for burden of FBD studies at country level. 

In 2015, the FERG’s first and only global report  which highlighted that more than 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses and 420 000 deaths could occur in a year. It was also evident that the burden of foodborne diseases falls disproportionately on groups in vulnerable situations and especially on children under 5 years of age, with the highest burden in low- and middle-income countries.

The resolution (WHA73.5)  in 2020 mandated WHO to monitor regularly and to report to Member States on, the global burden of foodborne and zoonotic diseases at national, regional, and international levels, and in particular to prepare, by 2025, a new report on the global burden of foodborne diseases with up-to-date estimates of global foodborne disease incidence, mortality and disease burden in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

Following the adoption of this resolution, 26 international experts were newly appointed as FERG members in May 2021.

More information is available via the website of the World Health Organization.

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

Service(s) working on this project

Associated Health Topics

QR code

QR code for this page URL