Food safety

7th report of the WHO surveillance programme for the control of foodborne infections and intoxications in Europe (1993-1998) 22 December, 2000

Introduction (from report)

The WHO Surveillance Programme for Control of Foodborne Diseases in Europe was launched in 1980 as a result of the international awareness of the socioeconomical impacts of the increase of foodborne diseases. This Programme is managed by the BgVV - FAO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Food Hygiene and Zoonoses under the responsibility of the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health in Rome.

Main objective of the Programme has been to provide information for the development of appropriate measures for the prevention and control of foodborne diseases in the Region. Particular objectives include:

  • Identification of the causes and epidemiology of foodborne diseases in Europe;
  • Distribution of relevant information on surveillance; and,
  • Collaboration with National Authorities in the identification of priorities in the establishment or reinforcement of their systems of prevention and control of foodborne diseases.

Since its establishment in 1980 the interest in the Programme has grown continuously. The Programme started with the participation of eight countries and currently there are 49 participating countries from the 51 members of the WHO European Region plus Cyprus.During the year 2000 10 new countries have joined the Programme including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the whole Balkan region. The Programme is particularly interested in inviting all the countries in the WHO -EURO Region to provide them with support in their efforts to the reinforce their surveillance systems.

Remarkable accomplishments have been achieved by the WHO Surveillance Programme during the last 20 years, including harmonization of definitions and introduction of standardized codes or the development of an EPI-INFO questionnaire to investigate foodborne outbreaks. As a result the Programme has been providing to risk assessors and risk managers in the Region with essential data and information for hazard identification and trends analyses and hence for the evaluation of control options.

The 7th Report of the Programme summarises the contributions from 49 countries of the WHO European Region plus Cyprus from 1993-1998. This web based version is preliminary and includes mainly the country reports in English. The final printed version will be available early 2001. The introduction, summary and discussion will be translated into Russian.

Country reports include:

  • General information on the surveillance systems in each country
  • Data from statutory notification
  • Information on epidemiologically investigated outbreaks
  • Additional information

The General information section includes a description of the official surveillance and reporting system in the corresponding country.

Statutory notification presents data from the official notification system in the countries. In a number of countries these data only refer to the number of cases notified to the health agencies with or without laboratory confirmation and without any further epidemiological background information.

The section on epidemiologically investigated outbreaks includes information on:

  • number of affected people;
  • causal agents;
  • incriminated foods;
  • place where food was contaminated or acquired or consumed; and
  • factors contributing to the outbreak.

This information is frequently based on the reports of laboratories involved in the investigation of foodborne incidents.

Finally the section of additional information may include comments from the national contact points and when available links to the participating countries’ related web sites with information on actual figures or trends in foodborne diseases.

With this web based version we invite all our national contacts and collaborators, to send us their insightful comments to enhance the final printed version of the 7th Report.

The editors would like to express our deep gratitude to all the participants in the Programme for their invaluable contributions and to all those who have collaborated in the elaboration of the 7th Report for their support to complete this important task.