Latest Report Shows Salmonella Remains Most Common
Cause of Food-borne Outbreaks - EFSA-ECDC
Food Safety Authority
total of 5,609 outbreaks were reported in
2007, which affected almost 40,000 people and caused 19 deaths. The report is
based on a new robust reporting system distinguishing between possible and
verified outbreaks. While the data vary considerably between Member States, a
high number of reported outbreaks do not necessarily indicate a particular
food safety concern but may rather be indicative that an effective national
monitoring system is in place.
The report showed that Salmonella continued to be the most frequent cause of
food-borne outbreaks accounting for four out of every ten 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 ten deaths. Eggs
or products containing eggs were the foods most frequently involved in the
As in the previous year, 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 over 3,700 people
but causing no deaths. Crustaceans, shellfish, molluscs and buffet meals 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, such as those produced by Bacillus, Clostridium or
Staphylococcus bacteria were the reported cause of 458 outbreaks in the EU
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 EU 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.
The majority of food-borne 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 included schools, canteens and hospitals or medical
The data on food-borne outbreaks in 2007 provided by 22 EU Member States
varied significantly because national investigation and reporting systems are
not harmonised within the EU. Numbers of verified outbreaks reported by
Member States do not necessarily reflect different levels of food safety. It
is more likely that a high number of reported outbreaks indicates the
effectiveness of national monitoring systems. Norway and Switzerland also
submitted data for the report.