EU figures reveal big increase in listeriosis and a marked drop in Salmonella infections

Listeria infections in the EU were up 19% in 2009, resulting in 270 deaths from listeriosis. The annual figures on food borne pathogens from European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) gave a mixed picture of food safety progress in Europe. Listeria infections increased the most in 2009, rising to 1645 confirmed cases. EFSA said 270 people died as a result from listeriosis, representing a 17% fatality rate.
According to ECDC “At present, the risk of exposure to Listeria is controlled by EU-wide microbiological criteria for restricted levels of Listeria bacteria in ready-to-eat food products....However, these criteria are to be reviewed while more studies are needed to assess other factors (like consumption habits of elderly) that may influence on the risk of infection.” Campylobacteriosis cases were also up in 2009, increasing 4% to 190 566.
More encouragingly, the number of Salmonella infections in humans fell for the fifth year in a row, dropping 17% in 2009 to 108 614.
John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy said: “The EU has made great strides in its battle against Salmonella and the consistent fall in the number of cases is testament to the strong, comprehensive measures put in place by the Member States to tackle this disease.” The Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 paved the way for control programmes and targets that made Salmonella a priority.