Report: Listeria is deadliest foodborne pathogen, according to European data

January 02, 2019

A new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Food Safety Authority analyzes 2017 data from the 28 members of the European Union as well as nine other European countries.

The most fatal foodborne pathogens, the report found, were:

    • Listeria, with 255 deaths
    • Salmonella, with 156 deaths
    • Campylobacter, with 45 deaths
    • Shiga toxin-producing coli (STEC), with 20 deaths

Most marked is the rise in Listeria cases, which have increased over the past five years, while other pathogen infections have sat at similar numbers during that time.

Where and what

Listeria may have been the most fatal foodborne bacteria, but it wasn’t the most widespread. There was a total of 2,480 reported infections in 2017, compared to Campylobacter with 246,158, Salmonella with 94,425, Yersinia with 6,800 and STEC’s 6,073.

Most of the deadly Listeria infections were reported from France and Germany, but the highest number of cases in general came from Finland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and Belgium. Most products affected were fish food products, ready-to-eat salads and meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

Campylobacter, making up nearly 70% of all reported foodborne illnesses in Europe, was most often found in raw meat products, particularly in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden and Luxembourg.

Salmonella was most commonly reported by the Czech Republic, and like Campylobacter, is mostly associated with raw meat products. Salmonella Enteritidis was the most common serotype, followed by S. Typhimurium.

STEC, mostly of the strain E. coli O157:H7, impacted young children most of all because of how easily it causes hemolytic uremic syndrome, a blood condition that affects the kidneys. It was mostly reported from Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Germany from meat and dairy products.

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Category: Food Safety, Food & Beverage, Healthcare, Pathogens, Bacterial Sequencing, Environmental Monitoring, Sanitation & Hygiene