Many authorities and institutions from different fields are involved in the monitoring of the food chain. Due to the complexity and the partly different objectives, a comprehensive, joint consideration is absolutely necessary. The 4th report from the series AGES WISSEN AKTUELL, "Food-borne Infectious Diseases", offers this overview. In addition, it describes which causes can lead to contamination of animal foodstuffs with certain pathogens and which measures for a reduction are possible for both producers and consumers.
In Austria, around 8,000 food-borne diseases are recorded each year in the national epidemiological reporting system (EMS). According to the WHO definition, food-borne infectious diseases are "infectious or toxic diseases that can actually or probably be attributed to the consumption of food or water".
A total of over 250 pathogens and toxins are known to cause such diseases. This report is limited to 20 pathogens of importance in Austria (Campylobacter, Clostridium difficile, EHEC/VTEC, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrionen, Yersinia, Noroviruses), Rotaviruses, sapoviruses, hepatitis viruses, Cryptosporidium parvum, Toxoplasma gondii, Cyclospora cayetanensis, Giardia and the toxins Staphyloccus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens). Pathogens that are virtually non-existent in Austria or occur only as travel sickness were not taken into account.
Since 2009, bacterial and viral food infections and poisoning have been reported via the EMS, a comprehensive surveillance system. However, these reporting figures must be considered in a differentiated manner: Numerous factors can lead to an underestimation of the actual number of cases ("underdetection/underreporting"). For salmonella, for example, data are available from Europe-wide basic studies, monitoring and control programmes. The reduction of salmonellosis is an effect of measures taken on the basis of this data. Toxoplasmosis, on the other hand, does not have to be reported, although new scientific findings indicate a connection with food. All these factors must be taken into account when assessing the real public health significance of a disease.
AGES WISSEN AKTUELL 4/2016: Food-borne infectious diseases