Update of the technical specifications for harmonised reporting of food-borne outbreaks through the European Union reporting system in accordance with Directive 2003/99/EC
In the analyses of the reported data on food-borne outbreaks at the European Union level it is important to address the relevance of different food categories as outbreak vehicles and the causative agents most frequently associated with these food vehicles. This report includes an update of the technical specifications for harmonised reporting of food-borne outbreaks to the European Union, to allow for the better achievement of their objectives. Member States shall report all food-borne outbreaks which meet the definition in the Directive 2003/99/EC. A distinction has been made between food-borne outbreaks supported by ‘weak’ evidence and those supported by ‘strong’ evidence, based on the strength of evidence implicating a particular food vehicle. The same dataset is used for both weak- and strong-evidence outbreaks. This includes the number of outbreaks per causative agent, and the number of human cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. In addition, other information can be reported by Member States, including the nature of the evidence supporting the suspicion of implicated food vehicles and data on the causative agents, food vehicles, and the factors in food preparation and handling that contributed to the food-borne outbreaks.