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Estimate of the prevalence and burden of food poisoning by natural toxic compounds in South Korea

Park, Myoung Su, Bahk, Gyung Jin
Food research international 2015 v.78 pp. 108-113
food safety, foodborne illness, health insurance, mushrooms, mycotoxins, natural toxicants, phytotoxins, poisoning, poisonous plants, seafoods, toxicity, uncertainty, South Korea
Many studies have attempted to accurately estimate the overall number of cases of foodborne illness, but there have not been many attempts to estimate the burden of foodborne disease caused by natural toxic compounds. This study estimated the number of cases due to specific natural toxins (seafood toxins, plant toxins, and mycotoxins) during 2008–2012 in South Korea, using data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA), while accounting for uncertainty in the estimate. The estimated annual occurrences of foodborne illness from natural toxic agents were 1088 (90% credible interval [CrI]: 883–1315), which suggests there are 21 times more cases than are reported, with 45.6% (n=496 [388–614]) and 54.4% (n=592 [423–790]), accounting for inpatient stays and outpatient visits, respectively. Among toxins, mushroom and plant toxins caused the highest illnesses, followed by toxic agents in seafood and mycotoxins. The 55–59year olds had the highest proportion of illnesses and those over the age of 40 accounted for 70.6% of all cases. The cases caused by mushroom poison, poisonous plants, and seafood toxins showed clear seasonal and regional differences. These results will be useful to food safety policymakers for the prevention and control of natural food poisons in South Korea.