Ebola: risk of transmission through food

There is no evidence that the Ebola virus can be transmitted through food in the European Union, according to EFSA scientists.

The report published today assesses the risk of Ebola transmission from the consumption of raw foods – such as plants, fruits and vegetables – legally imported into the EU from African countries.

To date there have been no reported human cases of Ebola infection from the consumption of these foods. 

For the virus to be transmitted though food, several steps are necessary; none of these has ever been reported. The exported food should be contaminated at the point of origin; the food would need to contain a viable virus (“capable of surviving”) when it arrives into the EU; the person has to be infected following foodborne exposure. 

In their risk assessment, EFSA experts identify several knowledge and data gaps – for example for how long the virus could survive in food.

This report has been developed by EFSA scientists and external experts, including two from the World Health Organization.

In a previous report EFSA scientists assessed the risk of transmission of Ebola through bushmeat illegally imported into Europe from Western and Central Africa, concluding that this was low.

Notes to editors
  • Outbreaks of Zaire Ebola virus disease have been reported in nine countries so far – Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal. All these countries can export fruits and vegetables into the EU, with the exception of potatoes. 
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