Microbiological contaminants in food in the European Union in 2004-2009
An in-depth analysis of the most comprehensive dataset on microbiological contaminants in foodstuffs in the EU is presented in this report for the years 2004-2009. The report covers findings of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Yersinia, verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), Brucella, as well as histamine, Enterobacter sakazakii and staphylococcal enterotoxins in foodstuffs. Information on the latter three is presented for the first time and covers the period 2006-2009.
The total number of samples reported by Member States (MSs) was large, however when the data were broken down to the fine level of categorization required in this report, they were often too sporadic for calculations of EU or MS group totals. Conclusions regarding temporal trends are therefore based on the interpretation of descriptive tables and figures.
Generally, there were no clear changes in the proportion of positive samples at different sampling stages along the food chain. However, it should be emphasized that the vast majority of investigations on ready to eat food (RTE) products for all six years revealed no or very low levels of microbiological contaminants.
In 2008 and 2009, the proportion of Salmonella positive samples in meat and meat products tested at retail seemed to stabilize at the relatively low level of approximately 1% compared to previous years. This may be a consequence of the microbiological criteria that came into force in 2006.
For Salmonella, Listeria, histamine, Enterobacter sakazakii and staphylococcal enterotoxins microbiological criteria are set in the Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 and most investigations were in compliance with the criteria.