Salmonella most common cause of E.U. foodborne outbreaks

by Bryan Salvage
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PARMA, ITALY — Salmonella remained the most common cause of foodborne outbreaks in the European Union, followed by foodborne viruses and Campylobacter, according to the Community Summary Report on Food-borne Outbreaks in the E.U. in 2007. The European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published this study.

In 2007 a total of 5,609 outbreaks were reported, which affected approximately 40,000 people and caused 19 deaths.

The report showed that Salmonella continued to be the most frequent cause of food-borne outbreaks accounting for four out of every 10 reported outbreaks. Of the 2,201 Salmonella outbreaks reported, 590 could be verified by laboratory detection or by analytical epidemiological evidence. The remainder were also likely to be food-borne outbreaks, but no conclusive evidence was available. These outbreaks affected 8,922 people and caused 10 deaths. Eggs or products containing eggs were the foods most- frequently involved in the Salmonella outbreaks.

Viruses were the second-most frequent cause of food-borne outbreaks. Altogether, food-borne viruses accounted for 668 reported outbreaks (of which 111 were verified) affecting more than 3,700 people but causing no deaths. Buffet meals, crustaceans, shellfish and mollusks were reported as the sources of viral outbreaks.

Campylobacter followed in the list of most-common causes with 461 outbreaks, of which 29 (excluding a large waterborne outbreak) were verified, affecting 244 people. Broiler meat and other meats remained the most common food source of these outbreaks.

Bacterial toxins, including those produced by Bacillus, Clostridium or Staphylococcus bacteria, were the reported cause of 458 outbreaks in the E.U. and 4 deaths. Member States also reported outbreaks caused by other bacteria, such as E. coli, Yersinia and Listeria, as well as parasites. 17 waterborne outbreaks were also reported, affecting 10,912 people altogether.

In 2007, a total of 5,609 food-borne outbreaks were reported by E.U. Member States, a slight decrease from 2006. Of the total number of outbreaks, 36% (over 2000) were verified by laboratory detection of the pathogen in food or by epidemiological evidence showing a link between human infection and the food source. The specific cause of five of the 19 deaths caused by food-borne outbreaks could not be identified.

Most foodborne outbreaks in 2007 were outbreaks affecting more than one household. The contaminated foodstuffs were most commonly consumed in homes or in restaurants, cafés, hotels or other caterers. Other places where outbreaks occurred include schools, canteens and hospitals or medical-care facilities.

To read the report, click The Community Summary Report on Food-Borne Outbreaks in The European Union in 2007.

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