Food-borne viruses and Campylobacter were the second and third most common forms of illness identified in their joint Community Summary Report on Food-borne Outbreaks in the EU in 2007.
A total of 5,609 outbreaks of food-borne illness were reported, nearly 40,000 people were affected and 19 died. The findings represent a small decrease on the totals reported in 2006. Of the total number of outbreaks in 2007, 36 per cent were verified by laboratory detection or by epidemiological evidence. The cause of five of the 19 deaths arising from food-borne outbreaks could not be identified. Epidemiological evidence Salmonella accounted for four out of every 10 reported outbreaks and of the 2,201 cases, 590 could be verified by laboratory detection or by analytical epidemiological evidence. The remainder was classified as being likely to be caused food-borne outbreaks, but no conclusive evidence was found. Salmonella outbreaks affected 8,922 people and caused 10 deaths. Eggs or products containing eggs were the foods most frequently involved in these outbreaks. Food-borne viruses accounted for 668 reported outbreaks of which 111 were verified. More than 3,700 people were affected but no one died. Crustaceans, shellfish, molluscs and buffet meals were identified as the sources of viral outbreaks. Campylobacter was responsible for 461 outbreaks of which 29 were verified, excluding a large waterborne outbreak, and 244 people affected. Broiler meat and other meats were the most common food sources of infection. Four deathsBacterial toxins, such as those produced by Bacillus, Clostridium or Staphylococcus bacteria were the reported cause of 458 outbreaks and four deaths. Outbreaks were also attributed to other bacteria such as E. coli, Yersinia and Listeria, as well as parasites. Waterborne outbreaks totaled 17 and 10,912 people were affected. The latest study is based on a new reporting system which distinguishes between possible and verified outbreaks, according to EFSA. A high number of reported outbreaks may not indicate a particular food safety concern but rather an effective national monitoring system, it added.