The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control released their joint annual report—The European Union One Health 2018 Zoonoses Report—on trends and sources of zoonoses last month. Their research found that, in 2018, nearly a third of foodborne outbreaks in the EU were caused by Salmonella.
Here, a foodborne disease outbreak is categorized as an incident during which at least two people contract the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink. In 2018, the EU reported a total of 5,146 foodborne outbreaks that sickened 48,365 people.
Out of 1,581 Salmonella outbreaks reported, roughly two-thirds of them occurred in Slovakia, Spain, and Poland. These outbreaks were mainly linked to eggs.
The most commonly reported gastrointestinal infections in humans in the EU were campylobacteriosis (246,571 cases reported), followed by salmonellosis (91,857 cases reported), Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) (8,161 cases reported), and listeriosis (2,549 cases reported). The number of STEC cases represents a 37 percent increase compared to 2017, but researchers believe this may be partly due to new laboratory testing technologies that make detection of sporadic cases easier.
Researchers also note that while the number of listeriosis cases didn’t change much since 2017, the trend has been upward over the past decade.
Also, of the zoonotic diseases covered by the report, listeriosis accounts for the highest proportion of hospitalized cases (97 percent) and highest number of deaths (229), making it one of the most serious foodborne diseases.
“Findings from our latest Eurobarometer show that less than one-third of European citizens rank food poisoning from bacteria among their top five concerns when it comes to food safety. The number of reported outbreaks suggests that there’s room for raising awareness among consumers as many foodborne illnesses are preventable by improving hygiene measures when handling and preparing food,” says EFSA’s chief scientist Marta Hugas.
You can read the full 276-page report online here.