Nav: Home

Small errors, fatal consequences

February 06, 2018

It is not only about relatively minor gastrointestinal illnesses like selflimiting diarrhoea. In particular among persons from risk groups (small children, expectant mothers, very old people or people whose immune system has been weakened by previous illness), a food-borne infection can also be severe, cause lasting damage and even prove fatal under certain circumstances. The improvement of kitchen hygiene is therefore a matter of vital importance for the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

To be able to constantly reduce the number of food-borne infections, information is required on the foods involved in food-borne outbreaks (1) and on their production and treatment. That is why the Member States of the EU submit data on food-borne outbreaks every year to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The EFSA report on zoonoses and food-borne outbreaks in Europe in 2016 shows that the majority of the 521 strong-evidence outbreaks was caused by the consumption of food in private households (205 outbreaks), followed by outbreaks caused by the consumption of food in restaurants, etc. (133) and communal catering facilities, such as canteens in kindergartens and schools, nursing homes and hospitals (87).

Improper handling of food can favour the outbreak of disease. According to the outbreak investigations, the major sources are meat and meat products and in particular poultry meat (126 outbreaks), as well as mixed food and buffet meals (85 outbreaks), eggs and egg products (72 outbreaks), fish and fisheries (70 outbreaks) and milk and milk products (45 outbreaks). Although vegetables, fruits, cereals, sprouted seeds, herbs and spices and their products made a much less significant contribution to the outbreak situation in Europe with a total of 34 outbreaks, they should in no way be ignored.

However, the 14,504 cases of food-borne disease in strong-evidence outbreaks recorded in Europe only partly reflect the food-borne infection situation in Germany and the EU. Above all, salmonella was the dominating causative agent of strong-evidence outbreaks reported by the EU Member States, whereas outbreaks caused by Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes and other food-borne pathogens are in the minority. However, regarding the individual cases of disease caused by food-borne pathogens that were reported to the public health authorities in Germany (approx. 100,000) and the European Union (approx. 360,000) in 2016, a completely different picture results: Campylobacter was the main cause of the reported cases of illness in Germany (approx. 74,000 cases) as well as in the EU (approx. 250,000 cases).

The risk of food-borne infections can be minimised through consistent compliance with the rules of good kitchen hygiene in both the professional area as well as in private households.

The BfR has published leaflets on this with general tips for avoiding food-borne infections in private households as well as information on individual pathogens. These are supplemented by flyers for professional applications available in several languages.

(1) A food-borne outbreak means an incidence of two or more human cases of the same disease, or a situation in which the observed number of cases exceeds the expected number and where the cases are linked, or are probably linked, to the same food source.
-end-
More information on the subject of food infections at the BfR website:

Information on Hygiene rules in the Catering Sector http://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/350/hygieneregeln-in-der-gemeinschaftsgastronomie-englisch.pdf

Press release: Pathogens in food: Improvements required to protect against Campylobacter, EHEC and Listeria 10/2015, 07/04/2015 http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/press_information/2015/10/pathogens_in_food__improvements_required_to_protect_against_campylobacter__ehec_and_listeria-193815.html

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Related Disease Articles:

Findings support role of vascular disease in development of Alzheimer's disease
Among adults who entered a study more than 25 years ago, an increasing number of midlife vascular risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking, were associated with elevated levels of brain amyloid (protein fragments linked to Alzheimer's disease) later in life, according to a study published by JAMA.
Dietary factors associated with substantial proportion of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and disease
Nearly half of all deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in the US in 2012 were associated with suboptimal consumption of certain dietary factors, according to a study appearing in the March 7 issue of JAMA.
Study links changes in oral microbiome with metabolic disease/risk for dental disease
A team of scientists from The Forsyth Institute and the Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait have found that metabolic diseases, which are characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity -- leads to changes in oral bacteria and puts people with the disease at a greater risk for poor oral health.
Fatty liver disease contributes to cardiovascular disease and vice versa
For the first time, researchers have shown that a bi-directional relationship exists between fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.
Seroprevalence and disease burden of chagas disease in south Texas
A paper published in PLOS Neglected Diseases led by researchers at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine suggests that the disease burden in southern Texas is much higher than previously thought.
Maternal chronic disease linked to higher rates of congenital heart disease in babies
Pregnant women with congenital heart defects or type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with severe congenital heart disease and should be monitored closely in the prenatal period, according to a study published in CMAJ.
Citrus fruits could help prevent obesity-related heart disease, liver disease, diabetes
Oranges and other citrus fruits are good for you -- they contain plenty of vitamins and substances, such as antioxidants, that can help keep you healthy.
Gallstone disease may increase heart disease risk
A history of gallstone disease was linked to a 23 percent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.
New disease gene will lead to better screening for pediatric heart disease
Cardiomyopathy, or a deterioration of the ability of the heart muscle to contract, generally leads to progressive heart failure.
Early weight loss in Parkinson's disease patients may signify more serious form of disease
A study led by a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator finds evidence of an association between weight loss in patients with early Parkinson's disease and more rapid disease progression.

Related Disease Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".