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Food Safety

Food-borne diseases (Zoonoses)

About zoonoses

Some infections in animals, the so-called zoonoses, such as brucellosis, salmonellosis and listeriosis, can be transmitted to humans in particular through contaminated food and in some cases, by contact with the live or slaughtered animal.

Specific measures against zoonoses exist in EU legislation relating to Veterinary Public Health. For instance, rules concerning BSE are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 and measures to inspect meat for the presence of parasites, such as Cysticercus and Trichinella, are included in the legislation concerning meat hygiene (Regulations (EC) No 853/2004, No 854/2004 and (EU) No 2015/1375).

As a follow up of the 2000 White Paper on Food Safety and based on scientific advice, two major proposals to review current legislation were adopted in 2003. These proposals, designed to cut the incidence of food borne diseases such as Salmonella in the European Union, comprise:

Several actions have been initiated in order to lay down implementing provisions for these two basic acts.

Implementation of the Directive

Monitoring of zoonoses in food and animals

Until 2004, the European Commission publishes a annual Community report on trends and sources of zoonotic agents in animals, feedingstuffs, food and man in the European Union.

From 2005, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), has been entrusted to prepare the yearly EU summary. The Commission has established a mandate to EFSA concerning the monitoring of zoonoses:

Mandate of Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concerning the monitoring of zoonoses

The EU reports are based on annual reports submitted by the Member States, Iceland, Switzerland (including Liechtenstein) and Norway and they contain a valuable overview of the prevalence of zoonoses in the Union. They can be consulted on the EFSA website.

In order to obtain more comparable information on the occurrence of zoonoses, the Commission launched baseline surveys on Salmonella in different animal species (See web page on the control of Salmonella)

Similarly surveys on on the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance and campylobacter were launched:

Futhermore, Commission Implementing Decision 2013/652/EU sets up priorities for the monitoring of AMR from a public health perspective, establishes a list of combinations of bacterial species, food-producing animal populations and foodstuffs and lays down detailed requirements on the harmonised monitoring and reporting of AMR.

Results: See the EFSA website

Implementation of' & amendments to the Regulation

Please refer to the Control of Salmonella page.

Antimicrobial Resistance

Please refer to our Antimicrobial Resistance web section.

Other legislative & training activities

29 February 2009: Workshop on Salmonella Control in Pigs

Agenda + Presentations

Special guarantees regarding Salmonella

When Sweden and Finland joined the EU special guarantees on Salmonella were provided as regards trade fromother countries of certain live animals and products. The reason for these guarantees was the favourable situation as regards the Salmonella prevalence in those Member States and the strict programmes applied. Norway has the same guarantees. The current guarantees are laid down in:

Other Member States or region of a Member States can obtain special guarantees if it has a control programme recognised as equivalent to that approved for Sweden and Finland in accordance with Regulations (EC) No 853/2004 (foodstuffs) and 2160/2003 (animals).

A guidance Guidance document on the minimum requirements for Salmonella control programmes to be recognised equivalent to those approved for Sweden and Finland in respect of meat and eggs of Gallus gallus is available: Guidance document

Antimicrobial resistance

There is an increasing concern on the development of antimicrobial resistance in food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). An overview of this issue presented during a coordination meeting on 17 January 2008.

Training activities

In 2007 five four-day training courses on the monitoring and control of zoonoses and on microbiological criteria in foodstuffs were organised for competent authorities within the frame of the " Better Training for Safer Food" programme. A similar training was organised in 2008.

Nomination of Community reference laboratories

Following the "stable to table" approach the Commission has introduced other tools to control foodborne pathogens along the food chain, in particular the revision of the Microbiological Criteria for foodstuffs in EU legislation.

Campylobacter

On request of the Commission EFSA has published the " Scientific Opinion on Campylobacter in broiler meat production: control options and performance objectives and/or targets at different stages of the food chain".

The Commission has asked for an analysis of the costs and benefits of setting control measures for Campylobacter based on the EFSA opinion. The cost model is available in an easy-to-use excel file and can be adjusted to Member States' individual situations.

Refer to Implementation of the Directive (above) for baseline surveys on zoonoses others than salmonella.

Also refer to:

DG SANTE workshop on the control of Campylobacter in poultry on 07 May 2014

Brucellosis and tuberculosis

A number of other control or eradication programmes covering diseases/infections which may be transmitted directly or indirectly to humans, in particular via food, are also co-financed by the Community, in particular brucellosis in large and small ruminants as well as tuberculosis in cattle.

VTEC

The results of a Food and Veterinary Office survey of national actions to reduce the risk of food contamination by E.Coli bacteria, are included in the pdf document "Staff Paper" below.

Staff paper on the results of a series of missions to review the operations of control over VerocytoxinogenicEscherichia Coli in the food production sector with particular reference to red meat, meat products and milk/milk products.

State of Play on the control of Salmonella - Commission's Communication

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council with regard to the state of play on the control of food-borne Salmonella in the EU.

Lessons learned from the 2011 outbreak

Commission staff working document: Lessons learned from the 2011 outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O104:H4 in sprouted seeds .

Commission's Vision paper

In close collaboration with the European Reference laboratories, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Commission developed a Vision paper on the development of data bases for molecular testing of foodborne pathogens in view of outbreak preparedness.

Co-financing of national control programmes

A decision on the co-financing by the Community of national programmes for the eradication and monitoring of animal diseases and for the prevention of zoonoses is adopted each year. Please see the "Veterinary Programmes" page, for more information.

Related links

Further information

Control of Salmonella

EU coordinated control programmes for Salmonella

Control of Trichinella

Trichinella is a parasitic nematode worm that can cause disease in people eating raw or undercooked meat from Trichinella-infected domestic animals or...

Zoonoses reports

Results of the monitoring to be provided by EU countries on a yearly basis