Foodborne Diseases on the Rise in Europe-A Call for Better Consumer Protection. (EH Update)

Journal of Environmental Health, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Foodborne Diseases on the Rise in Europe-A Call for Better Consumer Protection. (EH Update)


Food safety and quality need to be improved in all European countries, because foodborne diseases have increased considerably in the region in the past decade, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in February. On the rise in particular are diseases from microbiological hazards, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, and cases of foods contaminated by chemical hazards such as dioxin, lead, and cadmium.

The statement was issued on the opening day of the First Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality in Budapest. Food safety experts from more than 40 countries, including food producers and consumers' associations from Western, Central, and Eastern Europe and other countries in transition met in Budapest from February 25 to 28 to discuss how to improve food safety and strengthen consumer confidence after recent food scares.

The meeting, jointly organized by FAO and WHO, was cosponsored by the European Union and some FAO/WHO member countries.

National policies and regulations on food safety and quality are still very diverse in Europe, according to FAO assistant director general Hartwig de Haen. "Food safety control systems in Central and Eastern, Europe, as well as in Central Asian Republics, are very different from those in the EU, and also vary among each other. Europe is certainly not aiming for a single standard diet. The challenge is harmonization in diversity Different food safety systems need to become comparable and fully transparent."

According to Dr. David Nabarro, WHO executive director, "Problems with food safety over the last decades have been aggravated by lack of collaboration between different authorities at national level. …

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