The Agriculture Council of the European Commission has
this week adopted a ‘zoonoses package’ of legislation aimed at reducing the
incidence of foodborne disease in the European Union (1,2). The legislation
is made up of two laws, and will come into force when it is published in the
Official Journal of the European Union
at the beginning of November 2003.
The first law is a directive, replacing Directive 92/117/EC (3), on monitoring
zoonotic agents. The European Food Safety Authority (http://www.efsa.eu.int)
will be instrumental in assessing information on the sources and trends
of pathogens. The second law is a regulation to reduce the occurrence of
zoonotic agents other than salmonella, and once prevalence of these pathogens
in member states has been investigated, targets will be set to reduce them.
Salmonella, particularly in poultry products and eggs, has been identified
as the priority target. All mandatory control measures will be eligible
for European Union (EU) co-financing. EU member states will have to adopt
national control programmes and encourage collaboration from the private
sector in order to achieve the reduction targets, the first of which will
be set in late 2004. Certification of salmonella status will be compulsory
for trade between member states and third countries.
Directive 92/117/EC ensured compulsory monitoring of salmonellosis, brucellosis,
trichinosis and tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis, and gave
rules for voluntary monitoring of other zoonotic agents. Foodborne outbreaks
and antimicrobial resistance monitoring were not covered. The new directive
will enable harmonisation of such schemes. It will introduce control measures
in more types of animal populations, and for more types of salmonella and
other zoonotic agents, which means that member states which currently have
such measures will be able to receive co-financing.