EFSA and ECDC zoonoses report

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Friday, March 09, 2012

fleischwirtschaft. com - Parma, ITALY. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have published their annual report on zoonoses and food-borne outbreaks in the European Union for 2010.

The report shows that Salmonella cases in humans fell by almost 9% in 2010, marking a decrease for the sixth consecutive year. Salmonella prevalence in poultry is also clearly declining at the EU level.

Campylobacteriosis remains the most reported zoonotic infection in humans since 2005 and the number of cases has been increasing over the last five years. This report supports the European Commission and EU Member States in their consideration of possible measures to protect consumers from risks related to zoonoses.

According to the report, the likely main reasons for the decrease in human salmonellosis cases are the successful EU Salmonella control programmes for reducing the prevalence of the bacteria in poultry populations, particularly in laying hens. Salmonella, which usually causes fever, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps, accounted for 99,020 reported human cases in 2010 compared to 108,618 in 2009. Salmonella was found most often in chicken and turkey meat.

Johan Giesecke, Chief Scientist at ECDC, explained that the increasing trends in human cases of Campylobacter highlighted the need of further joint efforts. For this, EFSA and ECDC would  continue to strengthen their links with all important partners and foster collaboration in order to decrease the occurrence of these diseases in the EU.

In 2010, a total of 212,064 Campylobacter cases in humans were reported, an increase for the fifth consecutive year with 7% more cases compared to 2009. In foodstuffs, Campylobacter, which can cause diarrhoea and fever, was mostly found in raw poultry meat. In order to combat Campylobacter, the European Commission is currently carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of the control measures for the bacteria at different stages of the food chain. EFSA has supported this work by among others analysing an EU-wide baseline survey on the prevalence of Campylobacter in chicken and providing scientific advice on possible reduction measures. The report also gives an overview of other food-borne diseases.

The report says that 5,262 food-borne outbreaks were recorded in the EU in 2010, slightly less than in 2009. These reported outbreaks affected over 43,000 people and caused 25 deaths; however, these figures may in reality be higher due to under-reporting. The most frequently reported causes were Salmonella (31% of all outbreaks), viruses such as norovirus (15%) and Campylobacter (9%). The most important food sources in the outbreaks were eggs and egg products, mixed and buffet meals and vegetables and derived products. The importance of vegetables as sources of outbreaks increased from previous years.
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