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According to a new study, drug resistant infections will kill an extra 10 million people a year worldwide – more than currently die from cancer – by 2050 unless action is taken.

They are currently implicated in 700,000 deaths each year.

The analysis, presented by British economist Jim O’Neill, said the costs would spiral to $100 trillion.

He was appointed by UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron in July to head a review of antimicrobial resistance.

The reduction in population and the impact on ill-health would reduce world economic output by between 2% and 3.5%.

The analysis was based on scenarios modeled by researchers Rand Europe and auditors KPMG.

They found that drug resistant E. coli, malaria and tuberculosis (TB) would have the biggest impact.Superbugs study

In Europe and the United States, antimicrobial resistance causes at least 50,000 deaths each year, they said. And left unchecked, deaths would rise more than 10-fold by 2050.

Jim O’Neill is best known for his economic analysis of developing nations and their growing importance in global trade.

He coined the acronyms BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and more recently MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey).

He said the impact would be mostly keenly felt in these countries.

The review team believes its analysis represents a significant underestimate of the potential impact of failing to tackle drug resistance, as it did not include the effects on healthcare of a world in which antibiotics no longer worked.

Joint replacements, Caesarean sections, chemotherapy and transplant surgery are among many treatments that depend on antibiotics being available to prevent infections.

The review team estimates that Caesarean sections currently contribute 2% to world GDP, joint replacements 0.65%, cancer drugs 0.75% and organ transplants 0.1%.

This is based on the number of lives saved, and ill-health prevented in people of working age.

Without effective antibiotics, these procedures would become much riskier and in many cases impossible.

The review team concludes that this would cost a further $100 trillion by 2050.

Hidden germs like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, plus mold and yeast are lurking in your kitchen and have the potential to make you and your family very sick if you don’t know where to look.

Cheryl Luptowski, a Home Safety Expert at the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF International) said: “People think that the bathroom is the dirtiest place in their house. When in fact the kitchen has the most germs.”

Cheryl Lupotowski and University of Arizona-Tucson Professor and Microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba (AKA Dr. Germ) reveal the 10 dirtiest spots in the average home kitchen, plus expert advice on how to banish germs.

1. Sponges and Dishcloths
Microbe: E. coli
According to a study by the NSF, more than 75% of dish sponges and rags have some sort of coliform bacteria–a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli and is an indicator of potential fecal contamination.
EXPERT ADVICE: Microwaving your sponges and dishcloths on high for about 30 seconds will kill most bacteria, according to Dr. Germ.

2. Sink
Microbe: E. coli
You may think that this is one of cleanest spots because everything gets washed in the sink. 45% of kitchen sinks were found to have coliform bacteria.
EXPERT ADVICE: Dr. Germ advises disinfecting the sink with a kitchen cleaner and just to be safe, don’t apply the 10 second rule when you drop food in the sink.

3. Refrigerator Vegetable Compartment
Microbes: Salmonella, Listeria, yeast and mold
“Dark moist environments tend to breed germs, even in the refrigerator. Produce should always be stored on a separate shelf above meat, poultry and seafood to avoid raw juices dripping onto the produce. First, avoid cross-contamination by separating ready-to-eat and unwashed produce. Also, keep them separate in your grocery cart, during food preparation, and when using kitchen tools and appliances,” said Cheryl Luptowski.

Hidden germs like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, plus mold and yeast are lurking in your kitchen

Hidden germs like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, plus mold and yeast are lurking in your kitchen

EXPERT ADVICE: To effectively clean the compartment, first remove the drawer from the refrigerator if possible. Cheryl Lupotowski advises washing the bin using a clean sponge or soft cloth and a mild detergent mixed with warm water. Rinse with tap water and wipe dry with a paper towel. To help control odors, use warm water mixed with a baking soda solution (about 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of water). Rinse and wipe dry.

4. Refrigerator Meat Compartment
Microbes: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold
This is another dark moist environment that’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Store meat and seafood on a separate shelf below produce to avoid raw juices from dripping onto the produce.
EXPERT ADVICE: “Clean monthly the same way you clean the vegetable compartment and whenever you see any spilled meat juices,” says Cheryl Lupotowski.

5. Cutting Board
Microbe: E. coli
In a study by the NSF, 18% of cutting boards were found to have coliform bacteria.
EXPERT ADVICE: Dr. Germ recommends using separate cutting boards: one for produce and one for meat, seafood, and poultry to avoid cross-contamination. Wash each one in hot soapy water and dry with a paper towel since bacteria thrive in moist environments.

6. Blender Gasket
Microbes: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold
“Appliances and utensils that are not properly disassembled and cleaned can harbor microorganisms,” says Cheryl Luptowski.

EXPERT ADVICE: “To clean properly, completely disassemble the blender, removing the jar, lid, plus the blade and gasket at the bottom and place them all in the dishwasher after each use. If the pieces are not dishwasher safe, hand them thoroughly in hot soapy water, then rinse and dry before re-assembling,” says Cheryl Lupotwoski.

7. Kitchen Countertops
Microbe: E. coli
32% of kitchen countertops were found to have coliform bacteria, according to an NSF study.
EXPERT ADVICE: Wiping down countertops with dirty sponges and dishcloths increases the chance that this area will be a germ hot spot in your kitchen. Break out the kitchen disinfectant again and use disposable paper towels to clean up this area.

8. Can Opener
Microbes: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold
Simply rinsing this tool isn’t enough to safeguard it from germs because it comes into direct contact with food.
EXPERT ADVICE: “To effectively clean, place the can opener in the dishwasher after each use (if dishwasher safe). If hand washing, wash in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean tap water before air drying after each use. If hand washing, pay special attention to the area around the cutting blades to be sure all food residue is removed,” says Cheryl Luptowski.

9. Rubber Spatula
Microbes: E. coli, yeast and mold
For two-piece spatulas, it’s important to separate the handle from the spatula portion before cleaning.
EXPERT ADVICE: “If they are dishwasher safe, place both sections in the machine after each use. If hand washing, wash in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean water. For one-piece spatulas, hand wash it thoroughly in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area where the handle joins the spatula. Rinse thoroughly and dry,” says Cheryl Luptowski.

10. Food Storage Container with Rubber Seal
Microbes: Salmonella, yeast and mold
Containers that have not been cleaned thoroughly have high counts of yeast and mold which may make food spoil quickly.
EXPERT ADVICE: “If dishwasher safe, place both the container and the lid in the dishwasher and wash after each use. If hand washing, wash both the container and lid in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area around the seal as well as any grooves where the cover attaches to the container. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry,” says Cheryl Lupotowski.

Salmonella: “Within 8 to 12 hours after eating a contaminated food item, a person may develop abdominal pain and diarrhea, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Symptoms generally last a day or less, but can be more serious in older or debilitated people,” says Cheryl Lupotowski.

Listeria: “Within 7 to 30 days after eating a contaminated food item, a person may develop symptoms including fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Listeria primarily affects pregnant women and their fetuses, newborns, the elderly, people with cancer, and those with impaired immune systems. Can cause fetal and infant death,” says Cheryl Lupotowski.

E. coli: “Within 2 to 5 days after eating a contaminated food item, a person may develop severe diarrhea (possibly bloody) and abdominal cramps. Usually little or no fever is present, and the illness resolves in 5 to 10 days,” says Cheryl Lupotowski.

California-based Glass Onion Catering that makes prepared chicken salad has recalled more than 180,000 pounds of its products after some were linked to a few cases of E. coli infection.

Glass Onion Catering has recalled products distributed to Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

So far, 26 people in three states have been diagnosed with the same E. coli infection, the USDA says. Fifteen of them say they ate products traced to Glass Onion Catering, which supplies midsized grocery store chains such as Trader Joe’s with “gourmet grab and go” products.

“The company announced that the products are being recalled in conjunction with other foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A full list of products being recalled will be available on FDA’s website at: www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Recalls/default.htm,” USDA said in a statement.

Some of the affected products include:

  • 12 oz. packages of “delish pan pacific chop salad”
  • 13.4 oz. packages of “atherstone Fine Foods Southwestern Style White Chicken Wrap with Chimichurri Sauce”
  • 10.7 oz. packages of “super fresh Foods California Grilled Chicken Salad, Low Fat Mendocino Mustard Dressing
  • 10.7 oz. packages of “Lunch Spot Southwestern Style Chicken Wrap, Chile & Lime Dressing
  • 10.7 oz. plastic containers of “TRADER JOE’S Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken”
    Glass Onion Catering has recalled more than 180,000 pounds of its products after some were linked to a few cases of E. coli infection

    Glass Onion Catering has recalled more than 180,000 pounds of its products after some were linked to a few cases of E. coli infection

It’s unusual for chicken to be contaminated with E. coli. Usually, the culprit is salmonella with chicken. The latest outbreake involving chicken was traced to Foster farms chicken produced in California. It made 300 people sick.

USDA, which regulates the safety of many foods, says the cluster of E. coli 0157:H7 illnesses started October 29.

“Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, the California Department of Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services, FSIS has determined that there is a link between the grilled chicken salads and the illness cluster,” USDA says.

Foodborne illness is common, according to CDC. Every year, about 48 million Americans, or one in six people, get sick from eating contaminated food. Common outbreaks include Salmonella in eggs or vegetables, E. coli in beef and Listeria in dairy products.

E. coli is a very common and usually harmless bacteria but the 0157:H7 strain can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Most people get better on their own but infection can cause a sometimes-deadly type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).


The toilet seat has acquired an unfair reputation as the dirtiest item in the average household, but scientists say there are far filthier places in our house, some of them where we least expect.

Would you chop your vegetables on your toilet seat? I think pretty much all of us would say No. But maybe we should think again.

Dr. Chuck Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, studies how diseases are transferred through the environment. This involves swabbing household items and measuring how many bacteria – and what sort – develops.

He particularly looks for faecal bacteria such as E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

His studies have found that on the average toilet seat there are 50 bacteria per square inch.

“It’s one of the cleanest things you’ll run across in terms of micro-organisms,” he says.

“It’s our gold standard – there are not many things cleaner than a toilet seat when it comes to germs.”

We should be more worried about other household items, it seems.

“Usually there are about 200 times more faecal bacteria on the average cutting board than on a toilet seat,” he says.

In the kitchen it doesn’t necessarily get there through actual contact with faeces. It comes via raw meat products or the viscera from inside of the animal, where a lot of the faecal bacteria originate.

Would Dr. Chuck Gerba be more inclined to chop his vegetables on a toilet seat then?

“It would seem a safer place,” he says.

“Not that I would recommend it, but you might treat your cutting board a bit more like you do your toilet seat.”

The toilet seat has acquired an unfair reputation as the dirtiest item in the average household, but scientists say there are far filthier places in our house

It’s because we all fear the dirtiness of the toilet seat so much that we regularly clean it, so perhaps this is the course of action we need to take with our chopping boards. Luckily with some of the new toilet seat technology you can at least deal with some of the smell issues through charcoal filtering, and hopefully we’ll start to see more sterilization options getting popular.But the filthiest culprit in our homes is the kitchen sponge or cloth.

According to Dr. Chuck Gerba, there are about 10 million bacteria per square inch on a sponge, and a million on a dishcloth.

In other words, a kitchen sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat, and a dishcloth is 20,000 times dirtier.

This is the same the world over.

“Always the dirtiest thing by far is the kitchen sponge,” says John Oxford, professor of virology at the University of London and chair of the Hygiene Council – an international body that compares hygiene standards across the world.

Its latest study examines samples from homes in nine different countries, and finds that 21% of “visibly clean” kitchen cloths actually have high levels of contamination. The cloths also fail the bacterial test which looks for E.coli.

The study identifies faecal bacteria in other places around the home, and this varies from one country to another.

Saudi Arabia has the dirtiest fridges, with 95% of the fridges in the study failing the bacteriology test for E.coli. And in South Africa, the dirtiest item is the seal in the bath, with almost two-thirds with unsatisfactory levels of E.coli and 40% for mould.

“It’s always a bit delicate which countries are the worst,” says John Oxford.

“We found that countries like Australia and particularly Canada are high up on the hygiene list… Countries near the bottom are fairly routinely, unfortunately, India and Malaysia.”

What about away from our homes? Dr. Chuck Gerba says the office is particularly bad.

“Many people don’t realize they’re talking dirty every time they pick up their phone, because they never clean it.

“The average desktop has 400 times more bacteria than on a toilet seat.”

“Shopping trolleys are really bad,” warns Chuck Gerba. What’s more, about half of reusable shopping bags have faecal bacteria in them.

“Some people have more faecal bacteria in their grocery bag than in their underwear, because they at least wash that.”

So what does this actually mean for us in terms of health risks?

“These numbers of bacteria, particularly for E.coli, are huge,” says Oxford.

“E.coli is an indicator bacterium. It may not itself cause horrible disease, but it indicates faeces is around and that might contain other organisms like salmonella and Shigella which really are virulently pathogenic.”

But we all touch these perhaps startlingly dirty things every day, and on the whole we don’t get constantly ill.

“We’re jolly lucky that as we’ve evolved over two million years, we have a whole set of genes whose only function is to get the immune system in action,” says John Oxford.

“All of us, in all these countries we have gone to, rely on Lady Luck too much, keeping our fingers crossed or sitting on our hands. In a modern scientific society, what we want is people to realize there’s a problem here and take action.”

Household hygiene

  • 2010 Hygiene in the Home Study tested 180 homes in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UK and US
  • Bathroom seals caused most concern, with 70% failing bacterial tests
  • Fridge interiors came second – more than 40% of homes failed tests on bacteria and mould build-up
  • Kitchen towels were found to be unsatisfactory or unacceptably dirty in 36% of homes
  • Cleanest surface tested was pushchair with only 6% failing bacterial tests


  • Short for Escherichia coli – type of bacterium present in gut of humans and other animals
  • E.coli infection happens when mutant strains are introduced to body, usually through food
  • 119 people were infected during E.coli outbreak in Northern Ireland last month; 14 people died in Germany in 2011 after outbreak caused by cucumbers