The incidence of foodborne infections in France

A report, dated May 10, 2004, from the French Health Monitoring Agency (InVS) evaluated, from the analysis of available data, the incidence of foodborne infections in France. Over 200 diseases of bacterial, viral and parasitic or toxic origin are transmitted by food. InVS estimates that the average number of people affected by illnesses due to food was around 250 000 per year between 1990 and 2000. The data on 23 infectious agents (bacteria, viruses and parasites) were analysed. These infections are frequent but the number of deaths (228-691 per year) is limited. Salmonella is the most frequent infection, followed by Campylobacter infections and listeriosis. The results make it possible to specify the nature and the importance of the infectious pathologies linked to food and hence to implement and optimize preventive measures. However, this study does not give any indication on the dynamics and evolution of the diseases, which can only be known through continuous monitoring systems. The efficiency of the prevention and control measures implemented at the production, distribution and consumption levels for food products show that the infections due to Salmonella spp, Listeria monocytogenes and Brucella spp, as well as their consequences, can largely be avoided. In this way, the number of cases and hence the number of deaths, has been significantly reduced since 1990. Furthermore, a monitoring system for Campylobacter infections was implemented in 2002. This study also made it possible to identify the infections, for example Yersinia, on which research should focus because the information available is not sufficient and does not make it possible to orient control and preventive measures.