Development of harmonised survey methods for food-borne pathogens in foodstuffs in the European Union
The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as authors. In accordance with Article 36 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, this task has been carried out exclusively by the authors in the context of a grant agreement between the European Food Safety Authority and the authors. The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the European Food Safety Authority is subject. It may not be considered as an output adopted by EFSA. EFSA reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors.
In the European Union, data collection on zoonoses and zoonotic agents in animals, food and feed, as laid down in Directive 2003/99/EC, is mainly based on the systems in place in the Member States. Consequently, collected data cannot be directly compared and the identification of trends could be influenced by differences in data collection between, as well as within the individual Member States. To help addressing these problems, this report contains guidelines on the development of surveys on food-borne pathogens in the food chain from harvest to retail. As a starting point, harmonised survey methods were developed for five common food-borne pathogens, Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Listeria monocytogenes, verotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Yersinia enterocolitica, and the rationale for these proposed methods were explained. The proposal contains survey protocols to estimate the prevalence of these five pathogens in specified foodstuffs within Member States (carcasses and meat from broilers, turkeys, pigs, and cattle, table eggs and ready-to-eat foods) at a specific point in the food chain (harvest, packing centre, retail). These protocols may be implemented by the Member States on a voluntary basis. The sampling plan, sample collection, laboratory analyses and data reporting were described within each of these protocols. It is proposed that Member States take these proposals into account, as far as possible, when conducting future surveys. The Member States may wish to agree on which protocols to run in a particular year. The repetition of selected surveys after a certain period of time, depending on national relevance and views, would allow to compare results as well as to observe and analyse trends. All this may improve the quality of data collected as well as contribute to a more precise picture of the situation within the European Union.