According to a report, The European Union Summary Report on Trends and Sources of Zoonoses, Zoonotic Agents and Foodborne Outbreaks in 2010, human EUcases ofthepotentially lethal pathogen increased by 7% in 2010 to 212,064.
Meanwhile, cases of Listeria infection dropped slightly and Salmonella-related illnesses decreased by 9%.
The findings, which were published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), support a 2011 EFSA opinion on Campylobacter control option in meat processing.
Scientific Opinion on Campylobacter in broiler meat production: control options and performance objectives and/or targets at different stages of the food chain,is currently under consideration at the European Commission (EC).
Awaiting EC approval
“EFSA had previously been asked to identify a number of options for processing. We have advice prepared for processors,” head of the EFSA biological monitoring unit Pia Makela told FoodProductionDaily.com.
“We are in the process of updating our meat inspection practices, which will include the control of foodborne pathogens and how we will control them.”
“The measures identified by the EFSA opinion have been passed on to the European Commission, where they are currently awaiting approval,” Makela added.
The European Commission is currently carrying out an analysis of the control measures currently in place to combat the bacteria at different stages of the food chain.
“Control options in primary production, such as restriction of slaughter age and discontinuing thinning are directly available from a technical point of view but interfere strongly with current industrial practices,” said the 2011 EFSA opinion.
“Control options for reducing carcass contamination, such as freezing, hot water and chemical decontamination are also directly available. Chemical decontamination is subject to approval in the EU and no chemical are currently approved for use.”
Salmonella, Listeria drop
A total of 5,262 foodborne outbreaks were records across the EU in 2010 – a slight decrease on 2009.
These outbreaks, of which Salmonella accounted for 31% of all outbreaks and Campylobacter 9%, affected over 43,000 people and caused the deaths of 25 people.
Cases of Salmonella fell by almost 9% from 108,618 in 2009 to 99,020 in 2010 – a sixth consecutive year decrease.
The drop in Salmonella infection has been attributed to EU control programmes for reducing the prevalence of the bacteria in poultry populations.
Human infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacterium also fell slightly in 2010, with 1,601 cases reported.
In 2013, EFSA will be analysing the results of an EU-wide baseline survey on Listeria in ready-to-eat foods including smoked fish, heat-treated meat products and soft and semi-soft cheeses.
“EFSA’s continued scientific work, including assessment of new mitigation options and reduction targets where necessary, helps the European Commission and the Member States to consider possible reviews of existing targets and other control options to further combat this public health threat,” said an EFSA statement sent to FoodProductionDaily.com.