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Salmonella and Food-borne Diseases - Introduction

Animal health is an important factor in food safety because some diseases, the so-called zoonoses such as brucellosis, salmonellosis and listeriosis, can be transmitted to humans in particular through contaminated food. Community legislation on animal health covers certain zoonotic animal diseases, which can be transferred to humans via foodstuffs (such as brucellosis and tuberculosis within Council Directive N° 64/432/EEC or Council Directive N° 91/68/EEC). Specific measures against zoonoses exist in Community legislation relating to Veterinary Public Health. For instance, rules concerning the brucellosis and tuberculosis status of holdings for milk production are laid down in Council Directive N° 92/46/EEC and measures to inspect meat for the presence of parasites such as Cysticercus and Trichinella are included in the legislation concerning meat hygiene (Directive N° 64/433/EEC).

In the White Paper on Food Safety the Commission announced a revision of this Directive on the basis of scientific advice. The Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health published an opinion on food-borne zoonoses on 12 April 2000. The Commission presented its Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive to review the Directive N° 92/117/EEC on 1 August 2001.

See related directives and decisions

See related press releases

Following the "stable to table" approach the Commission has introduced other tools to control foodborne pathogens along the food chain, in particular the revision of the microbiological criteria for foodstuffs in Community legislation.

Each year the European Commission publishes a Community report on trends and sources of zoonotic agents in animals, feedingstuffs, food and man in the European Union. The report is compiled in accordance with Article 5 of Council Directive N° 92/117/EEC and it is based on annual reports submitted by the Member States and Norway. The report contains a valuable overview of the prevalence of zoonoses in the Community.

The Community has approved a number of programmes in Member States to control salmonella in certain animal populations. Within those approved programmes, the eradication of some Salmonella serotypes (Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium) from fowl breeding flocks (Gallus gallus) has been co-financed by the Community.

A number of other control or eradication programmes covering diseases/infections which may be transmitted directly or indirectly to humans, in particular via food, are also co-financed by the Community, in particular brucellosis in large and small ruminants as well as tuberculosis in cattle.

To assist the Commission in the efficient detection and monitoring of biological hazards present in food, especially of animal origin, six Community Reference Laboratories (CRL) have been designated in the area of biological risks to coordinate the work of the National Reference Laboratories.

The results of a Food and Veterinary Office survey of national actions to reduce the risk of food contamination by E.Coli bacteria, are included in the pdf document "Staff Paper" below.

Staff paper pdf (FVO) on the results of a series of missions to review the operations of control over Verocytoxinogenic Escherichia Coli in the food production sector with particular reference to red meat, meat products and milk/milk products.

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