Better surveillance or worserer food? Increasing foodborne infections in the EU in 2014

Human cases of campylobacteriosis and listeriosis continued to rise in the EU in 2014, showing an increasing trend since 2008.“It is worrying that Campylobacter and Listeria infections are still rising in the European Union,” Mike Catchpole, Chief Scientist at ECDC said, “this situation highlights the importance of enhancing listeriosis surveillance through molecular typing, work currently developed by ECDC and EFSA, and strengthening the EU-wide Campylobacter control measures at EU-level”.

There were 2,161 confirmed cases of Listeriosis infections in 2014, a rise of 16% compared with 2013. Although the number of cases are relatively low, the rise of reported listeriosis cases is of particular concern as the surveillance of these infections is focused on severe forms of the disease, with higher death rates than for other foodborne diseases, particularly among the elderly, and patients with a weak immune system.

Campylobacteriosis remains the most commonly reported food-borne disease in the EU and has been so since 2005. The number of confirmed cases in the EU in 2014 was 236,851, an increase of 10%, compared with 2013. This increase can partly be explained by improvements in the surveillance system and/or improved diagnostics for campylobacteriosis in several Member States. In food, Campylobacter was mostly found in chicken meat.

Confirmed cases of salmonellosis, the second most commonly reported food-borne disease in the EU, increased slightly for the first time over the period 2008–2014, due to changes in the number of Member States reporting. However, there has been a statistically significant downward trend of salmonellosis in the seven-year period of 2008–2014. This is mainly due to the successful Salmonella control programmes put in place for poultry by EU Member States and the European Commission.