June 1, 2023

Decline in Europe’s Salmonella Cases Stalls, with More Illnesses Linked to Eggs

Europe has been wining the battle against Salmonella infections, but that decade-long decline ended last year. A small increase in Salmonella illnesses linked to eggs and egg products was reported in 2016. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Food Safety Authority issued a joint report yesterday about this issue.


The report covers foodborne illnesses from 28 European Union member states and 9 other countries. There were 4,786 foodborne illness outbreaks for the year, which is a slight increase from 2015. And unfortunately, Campylobacter and Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks increased.

Salmonella Enteritidis infections in people increased by 3% since 2014. This number parallels the increase in the number of laying hens over the same time period. In 2016, these infections made up one in six food poisoning outbreaks.

Overall, Salmonella was the most common cause of food poisoning outbreaks. The number of people sickened with these infections were 22.3% of all of those sickened in these outbreaks, which is an increase of 11.5% over the numbers from 2015. And these illnesses caused the highest hospitalization and death numbers. Salmonella infections from eggs caused the highest number of outbreak cases.

Dr. Mike Catchpole, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s chief scientist said in a statement, “Even in a state of high awareness and with national control programmes for S. Enteritidis in place, there is a need for continuing risk management actions at the Member State and EU level.” And Dr. Marta Hughes, ESFA’s chief scientist, said, “Further investigations by competent authorities in the field of public health and food safety will be crucial to understand the reasons behind the increase.”

Campylobacter is the most reported foodborne pathogen that causes illness in humans. The number of Campylobacter infections in European countries in 2016 increased 6.1% from 2015, but very few people died. Campylobacter bacteria were found at high levels in chicken.

And severe Listeria monocytogenes infections increased as well, by 9.3%. The death rate for those infection was a little under 10%.

In the United States, there were five multistate Salmonella outbreaks in 2016 linked to food products. They include a Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak linked to Good Earth shell eggs that sickened eight people, A Salmonella Reading and Abony outbreak linked to Sprouts Extrarordinare alfalfa sprouts that sickened 36, a Salmonella Montevideo and Senftenberg outbreak linked to Wonderful brand pistachios, a Salmonella Muenchen and Kentucky outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts that sickened 26, and an S. Virchow outbreak linked to Garden of Life RAW Organic Shake & Meal products that sickened 33 people.

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