Biological hazards topics


Animal health is a key part of EFSA’s mandate. The concept of animal health covers not only animal diseases but also the critical relationship between animal welfare, animal health and food safety. EFSA is uniquely placed to take an integrated approach to animal health as its remit covers the safety of the whole food chain.
Animal welfare is an important part of EFSA’s remit. The safety of the food chain is indirectly linked to the welfare of animals, particularly animals farmed for food production, particularly due to the close connection between animal welfare, animal health and food-borne diseases.
Decontamination treatments involve applying a chemical substance to animal carcasses during the slaughter process to reduce contamination by microbes such as salmonella or campylobacter.
Safe animal feed is important for the health of animals, the environment and for the safety of foods of animal origin. There are many examples of the close link between the safety of animal feed and the foods we eat.
The main purpose of meat inspection is to detect and prevent public health hazards such as food-borne pathogens or chemical contaminants in food of animal origin. Yet existing inspection practises often date back decades and might not always adequately protect public health.
EFSA is following the new influenza A virus outbreak (initially referred to as ‘swine flu’) first reported in humans in Mexico and in the USA and notified to the World Health Organization.
A wide variety of biological agents such as bacterial and fungal species or viruses used for plant protection purposes may be authorised in the European Union for use in the food and feed chain.
Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause an illness called salmonellosis in humans. In the European Union, over 100,000 human cases are reported each year.
Between the beginning of May and the end of July 2011, there was an outbreak of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in Germany. On 24 June 2011, French authorities also reported an E. coli outbreak in the region of Bordeaux. Since the start of these outbreaks, there were a large number of patients with bloody diarrhoea caused by STEC and an unusually high proportion of these developed haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).