Zoonoses are infections or diseases that can be transmitted directly or indirectly between animals and humans, for instance by consuming contaminated foodstuffs. Common food-borne zoonotic infections in the European Union (EU) are caused by bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella.
Data collection is imperative to identify which animals and foodstuffs are the main sources of infections and to monitor the prevalence of zoonoses. Data analysis supports efforts to prevent and reduce the impact of zoonoses in the food chain. For this purpose, information on food-borne zoonotic diseases aimed at protecting human health is collected and analysed from all EU Member States.
EFSA monitors and analyses the situation on zoonoses, zoonotic micro-organisms, antimicrobial resistance, microbiological contaminants and food-borne outbreaks across Europe. The Authority is assisted by the Task Force on Zoonoses Data Collection: a pan-European network of national representatives of EU Member States, other reporting countries, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Annual summary reports on zoonoses and food-borne outbreaks in the EU
Based on data collected by the EU Member States, EFSA produces in cooperation with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) annual European Union Summary Reports on zoonotic infections and food-borne outbreaks. These reports illustrate the evolving situation in Europe regarding the presence of zoonotic micro-organisms in the food chain and the prevalence of animal and human infection as well as disease outbreaks caused by consuming contaminated food.
EFSA reviews the annual reports and makes recommendations on prevention and reduction measures. Together with ECDC, EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ Panel) and the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW Panel) have provided recommendations on preventing and reducing zoonotic diseases in humans and animals including salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, listeriosis and toxoplasmosis.
EFSA also provides guidance to national authorities on how to carry out monitoring and reporting activities on zoonoses, food-borne outbreaks and antimicrobial resistance.
EU-wide baseline survey reports – comparable prevalence figures on zoonotic agents in food and animals
The prevalence of food-borne zoonotic micro-organisms is monitored throughout the European Union. EU-wide baseline surveys are carried out to obtain fully comparable figures of the prevalence of zoonotic micro-organisms in food and in various animal populations, including chickens, turkeys and pigs, at a specific point in time. EFSA analyses and publishes the results of these surveys covering the prevalence of Salmonella, Campylobacter and Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among others.
The baseline survey results are published in two parts: part A assesses the prevalence of the zoonotic micro-organism, e.g. Salmonella, in a certain animal population and part B analyses the risk factors that contribute to the prevalence of that micro-organism in the specific animal population.
EFSA’s findings are used by risk assessors such as EFSA’s BIOHAZ Panel to provide risk estimates and by risk managers in the EU and the Member States to define possible control options and/or reduction targets.
The monitoring and control of food-borne diseases as well as food hygiene requirements and food safety criteria are regulated by EU legislation. For details on the regulatory framework, see the topic on Food-borne zoonotic diseases.
- Topic: Food-borne zoonotic diseases