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More efforts needed to reduce foodbourne illnesses, as downward trend stops


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The downward trend of foodbourne illnesses has stalled, according to a new European report, and more must be done to push the figures down it says.

The number of reported cases of the zoonotic disease listeriosis has continued to rise, while others have remained stable over the past five years in the EU, a new report published by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has stated.

According to the report, after several years of decline, salmonellosis cases in the EU have flattened out. In 2017 the number fell slightly from 94,425 to 91,662 but the downward trend that began in 2008 has stalled in recent years, it says. 

“After years of significant progress in reducing the burden of foodborne illnesses in the EU, especially Salmonella, the situation has now stalled. Increased efforts are needed to push the figures further down,” EFSA’s chief scientist Marta Hugas has said.

S. Enteritidis is the most commonly reported type of Salmonella in humans, causing one in seven foodborne outbreaks. In the period 2013-2017, the trend of confirmed cases of S. Enteritidis in humans was stable and seemed to mirror an analogous trend in laying hens.

The 5,079 foodborne and waterborne outbreaks reported in 2017 represent a 6.8pc decrease compared with 2016, according to the report. Salmonella bacteria were the most common cause of foodborne outbreaks, particularly in meat products and eggs, which caused the highest number of outbreak cases, it says.

“The fall in the number of outbreaks is to be welcomed, but we still saw an average of 100 food- and waterborne outbreaks per week in 2017, some of which affected several countries”, said Mike Catchpole, ECDC Chief Scientist. 

“These infections are a substantial cause of human illness in the EU. The rising trend of listeriosis, which continues to cause deaths in vulnerable groups, needs to be reversed.”

Cases of campylobacteriosis decreased slightly in 2017 compared to 2016 (246,158 vs 246,917), but it is still the most commonly reported zoonotic disease in the EU, according to the report. The highest occurrence was detected in chicken meat (37.4pc) and turkey meat (31.5pc).

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