OCT. 1–BRUSSELS, Belgium–European Commissioner David Byrne welcomed the Agriculture Council’s decision this week on new rules to cut the incidence of foodborne diseases in the European Union.
In Europe, as elsewhere, salmonella, campylobacter, listeria and E. coli have lead to numerous sick days, needless deaths and large public health costs every year.
The annual costs of foodborne salmonella alone, that sickens 160 000 people each year, are estimated to hit $3.3 billion (?2.8 billion).
The two laws, proposed by the Commission in August of 2001 and backed by Parliament in May 2002, represent an overhaul of existing rules on diseases transmissible between animals and humans.
The first law is a directive on monitoring agents, aiming to improve knowledge of the sources and trends of these pathogens, to support microbiological risk assessments and to serve as a basis to adopt measures to manage risks. The European Food Safety Authority will play a key role in assessing this information.
The second law is a regulation to reduce foodborne pathogen contamination at primary food production points.
In order to achieve the reduction targets, Member States will need to adopt national control programs and encourage the private sector to collaborate. For trade between Member States and with third countries, certification of salmonella status will be made obligatory according to the specified time schedule.