Wassenaarders.nl | Norovirus again the main cause of foodborne illness outbreaks

In 2019, the NVWA Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the Municipal Health Service (GGD) registered fewer outbreaks of food-related infections and poisonings than in 2018. It is not known whether there were fewer outbreaks last year or whether there were only fewer reports. Norovirus remains the main cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. This is evident from the registration of food-related outbreaks in the Netherlands in 2018-2019.

In 2019, NVWA and GGDs registered a total of 735 food-related outbreaks, in which 3,058 people became ill. In 2018, that number was 756 outbreaks, with 2,805 sick. As in previous years, norovirus remains the leading cause of recorded food-related outbreaks, followed by Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Food-related outbreaks
Food can make people sick. When two or more people get sick at the same time after eating the same food, it’s called a food-related outbreak. Treating doctors and laboratories must report these outbreaks to the GGDs. People who suspect that they have become ill due to food can also report this to the NVWA themselves. The figures quoted are lower than the actual number of food-related outbreaks and the number of sick people. This is partly because not everyone who is ill goes to a doctor or informs the NVWA. The actual number of food-related infections in the Netherlands is estimated at around 650,000 per year.

Hygienic measures
Some of the food-related infections can be prevented by working hygienically in the kitchen. This means washing hands before cooking, using different cutting boards and knives for raw and cooked food, and letting the food cook well.

Analysis registrations
The NVWA and the GGDs are investigating outbreaks of food-related infections and poisoning to prevent more sickness and outbreaks. The NVWA examines the food, its origin and the place where it is prepared. The GGD focuses on people who have eaten contaminated food and tries to trace the possible source (s) through them.

The Center for Infectious Disease Control (CIb Center for Infectious Disease Control) of the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment combines the reports from the GGDs and NVWA and analyzes them as a whole. This analysis provides insight into the causes of food-related outbreaks in the Netherlands, the extent to which they occur and possible changes in this over the years. These insights help combat food-related outbreaks.

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