Publications

Registratie voedselgerelateerde uitbraken in Nederland, 2020

Friesema, I.H.M.; Slegers-Fitz-James, Ife A.; Wit, Ben; Boxman, I.L.A.; Franz, Eelco

Summary

Food can make people ill. If two or more persons become ill at the same time after eating the same food, this is called a ‘food-related outbreak’. In 2020, 559 outbreaks, affecting 1907 people, were reported. This is clearly less than in 2018 (756 outbreaks affecting 2805 people) and in 2019 (735 outbreaks affecting 3058 people). This decrease is primarily due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and the measures taken to reduce its spread, such as washing one’s hands. The norovirus, Salmonella and Campylobacter are still the cause of most outbreaks, but at a much lower level in 2020 than in previous years. These figures come from the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) and the municipal public health services (GGDs). These institutions record and investigate food-related infections and food poisoning to prevent more persons from becoming ill. For that purpose, based on their own field of work, they attempt to determine where people were infected and by which pathogen. The NVWA investigates which pathogens may be present in food, the source of the food, and where the food is prepared or sold. The GGDs focus on people who have been exposed to contaminated food, trying to determine the possible sources of contamination via these persons. RIVM combines the figures from the two institutions and analyses them as a single whole. This approach provides insight into the causal factors of food-related outbreaks in the Netherlands, how often they occur and any changes and trends in this over the years. The figures given are an underestimate of the actual number of food-related outbreaks and people affected. This is because, among other things, people who are ill do not always visit their general practitioner (GP) or notify the NVWA. It is furthermore not always clear whether contaminated food is the cause of an illness.